Speaking at the firm’s annual shareholder meeting, Apple COO Tim Cook addressed the company’s new data centers, worker mistreatment in China and Apple’s success thus far in that market. Shareholders also rejected a resolution requiring the board to disclose a detailed succession plan.
Cook led the shareholder meeting, stepping in for CEO Steve Jobs in that capacity. Cook fielded questions at the close of the meeting (via CNBC), during which time he addressed Apple’s new North Carolina data center, which will be fully operational this spring. He added that it’s intended to support MobileMe and iTunes, which could mean that rumors of an impending revamp of Apple’s cloud-syncing service are accurate, and that Apple might indeed be intending to offer the service free to all owners of its devices, as the Wall Street Journal had previously reported. At the time, the WSJ also reported MobileMe would become a cloud-based “locker” of photos, audio and video, which would also explain the need for a massive new data center.
That he mentioned iTunes also suggests Apple could be looking to significantly expand its streaming services. Apple currently offers streaming video content for Apple TV users, but the added capacity provided by the new, huge NC facility could easily accommodate the long-rumored iTunes streaming subscription service.
Cook also deflected a question about recent allegations of worker mistreatment at supplier factories in China, saying if it hadn’t been reported on ESPN or CNBC, he hadn’t seen it. He went on to talk about Apple’s efforts to improve health and safety standards among its suppliers.
As for the meeting itself, it saw the defeat of a shareholder proposal that Apple prepare a detailed succession plan. I argued that such a plan would be a bad idea in an earlier piece, and it seems Apple’s shareholders agreed, since the proposal appears to have been defeated according to a preliminary count of votes made by proxy prior to the meeting. Votes made at the meeting still have to be tabulated, but the results of the initial count almost always win out.
In addition to the succession planning vote, there was one other shareholder proposal voted on at the meeting. It allows shareholders to prevent the election of board directors who run without opposition from being acclaimed by withholding their votes. Surprisingly, since it was opposed by Apple and generally expected not to succeed, this second motion passed the preliminary vote.
A vote to approve Apple’s existing board members also passed, with all seven members remaining intact, including Steve Jobs. Apple’s other board members are William Campbell, Millard Drexler, Albert Gore, Andrea Jung, Arthur Levinson and Ronald Sugar.
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