Apple's new services 'aren't hobbies,' a testy Tim Cook told analysts (AAPL)


CEO Tim Cook attends China Development Forum (CDF) 2018 at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on March 24, 2018 in Beijing, China.

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed defensive Tuesday when asked to assess the potential of the company’s new service offerings.
  • Apple’s new subscription video, game, and news services “aren’t hobbies,” Cook said.
  • The line was reminiscent of one he and former CEO Steve Jobs long used to describe Apple TV, the company’s digital video streaming device.
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Apple, it seems, is no longer interested in hobbies.

On a conference call with analysts Tuesday, Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, seemed to get a bit defensive when asked about the potential of the new services Apple announced last month. After touting the early consumer interest in Apple Card, the company’s new credit card, and the work it’s put into its new game, news, and video subscription offerings, Cook dismissed any notion that the iPhone maker merely dabbling in such services.

“We wouldn’t do a service that we didn’t think would be meaningful,” said Cook, who was speaking after the company reported its second fiscal-quarter earnings. He continued: “These aren’t hobbies.”

Read this: Apple’s shares jump 5% as its Q2 numbers beat the Street

For those with long memories, the line was both a callback and rebuke to one Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs, used to describe Apple TV, the company’s digital video streaming device. While Jobs initially expressed hope that the device would become a major product category for Apple, he soon started referring to it as a hobby. While Apple saw potential in the device and continued to tinker with it, the company never saw much revenue from it and the market structure for such devices made it hard for it to become a real business, Jobs explained.

Cook likewise has referred to Apple TV as a hobby. Which is what makes his statement on the call all the more striking. Apple’s new services are not the next iteration of Apple TV, he seems to be saying.

Those services have gotten a mixed reaction among analysts and experts. Some on Wall Street are enthusiastic about the collective potential of Apple’s services offerings. But other experts question how much demand there will be for them, particularly for Apple’s new TV Plus video streaming service.

That service enters a market that is filled with a growing number of competitors, including market leader Netflix, and Hollywood giant Disney, and tech rival Amazon. Unlike many of its rivals, Apple has a relatively sparse library of its own unique shows and movies.

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