Apple CEO: Producing and Owning Original Content Is ‘Great Opportunity for Us’

Tim Cook says tech giant 'open to acquisitions of any size'

Tim Cook Apple

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the tech giant is interested in boosting original entertainment content as it looks to build on its early forays into TV-style programming.

“We’ve got a few things going there that we’ve talked about. And I think it’s a great opportunity for us — both from a creation point of view and from an ownership point of view,” Cook said on Apple’s earnings call Tuesday. “And so it’s an area that we’re focused on.”

Cook also said that Apple is “open to acquisitions of any size” that are strategically aligned with its businesses, but he didn’t specify which particular areas the company might be looking at M&A.

“We look at a whole variety of companies, and based on that we choose whether to move forward or not,” he said. “But we’re definitely open, and we definitely look.”

Apple and Time Warner execs met late last year, and that’s led to Wall Street speculation that Apple might have been vying for the media conglomerate or may emerge to outbid AT&T. On Saturday AT&T announced a $85.4 billion takeover deal for Time Warner. There’s also been speculation that Apple (as well as Disney) could be interested in a megadeal for Netflix.

Asked about Apple’s interest in TV, Cook responded with similar comments he’s made in the past: “I would confirm that television has intense interest with me and many other people here.”

Apple on Tuesday reported its third consecutive quarterly sales decline. For the period ended Sept. 24, the company posted $46.9 billion in revenue, down 9% year over year, as unit sales of iPhones fell 5%, to 45.5 million devices.

On the original programming front, Apple this summer reached a licensing deal with CBS for a 16-episode TV series based on the “Carpool Karaoke” segment of “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” which will be distributed exclusively on the Apple Music subscription service worldwide. Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” in which guests like Michelle Obama and Britney Spears sing along with him in a car, has been a hit on YouTube — and Apple sees a natural fit for the franchise with its streaming-music play.

Apple also has bought “Planet of the Apps,” a reality-competition TV show featuring aspiring app developers pitching their creations for a chance to win venture-capital funding, a project designed to highlight Apple’s App Store business. It is being produced by Propagate’s Ben Silverman and Howard Owens with Will.i.am, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and tech investor Gary Vaynerchuk on board as executive producers and mentors appearing on the show.

In addition, Apple is said to have greenlit a scripted series from Dr. Dre, co-founder of music company Beats, which Apple acquired for $3 billion.