Shareholders meeting reveals Apple Store coming to India; Cook labels coronavirus ‘a challenge’

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steve jobs theater
Apple shareholders gathered at Steve Jobs Theater today for their annual meeting.
Photo: Apple

Apple hosted shareholders for an annual meeting Wednesday, and it was seemingly business as usual. CEO Tim Cook said the company will open its first Apple Store in India this year. He explained why Apple’s streaming service passed on a Friends reunion. He defended Apple’s role in FBI investigations when asked to retrieve iPhone data.

But the tech giant finds itself at an unusual moment in its history with a deadly coronavirus in China that halted business travel, crippled manufacturing, closed all 42 Apple Stores in the country and forced Cupertino to pull back on its March-quarter revenue protections.

It was not a big topic at the meeting.

Cook spoke briefly about the virus, calling it “a fairly dynamic situation” and “a challenge,” Business Insider reported. He said all of the company’s efforts were ensuring the safety of its workers and partners and offered to answer questions during the Q and A portion for shareholders. The topic never came up again, Business Insider said.

Apple shareholders meeting: Good news from India

In fairness to Apple, the virus currently controls the calendar. Apple has reopened 29 of its stores in China and Cook has talked publicly about production facilities operating at reduced capacities. Analysts offering their predictions get reported by tech news sites every day.

Apple has built its success in the factories and through a sophisticated network of suppliers all in one country. The company has pivoted where it can but otherwise must ride this out.

With China one of its most important markets, Apple turned to another: India.

After years of negotiations with the government, Apple has made inroads there with iPhone manufacturing and now retail. Cook did not disclose the city where an Apple Store will open this year. He did add that it also plans to open an online store in India.

Cook called himself a “huge believer” in the potential for growth in India, c/net’s Abhar Al-Heeti reported.

She wrote: The process of opening a store in India has taken time because Apple has been seeking approval to operate in India without a local partner, Cook told shareholders. “I don’t think we would be a very good partner of retail,” he said. “We like to do things our way.”

Cook defended Apple TV+ bowing out of negotiations for the Friends reunion, which got picked up by HBO Max. He said it did not fit with the service’s original programming vision.

One shareholder asked Cook to respond to public complaints from the FBI that Apple has not helped in the unlocking of an iPhone used by the shooter at a Florida naval base last year. Cook said Apple has turned over what data it could. “Don’t think for a second we have something that we’re not giving,” Cook said.