Predictions are out for the next iPhone and it’s shaping up to be so new that it’ll break sales records.
CUPERTINO, Calif. — Apple CEO Tim Cook rocks in his chair as he meets the question with an unyielding gaze.
“Of course corporations should have values, because people should have values,” says the soft-spoken tech leader, who has been vocal on a range of civic issues, from gay rights to privacy rules. “And corporations are just a bunch of people.”
Cook met with USA TODAY to discuss the company’s expanded corporate partnership with (RED), the 20-person organization founded by U2 singer Bono that has had an outsized impact on those suffering from HIV/AIDS by providing life-saving medicines.
Beginning Wednesday, which in Australia marks December 1’s World AIDS Day, Apple will festoon 400 stores, a fourfold increase from last year, with (RED) signage, while expanding the number of products, games and apps whose purchases channel an undisclosed percentage of their sales price to the organization.
Among the new (RED) products are an iPhone 7 battery pack case and Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones. Nearly two dozen games such as Angry Birds and Clash of Clans will donate all proceeds from in-app purchases. And for every item bought at an Apple Store using Apple Pay, the company will donate $1 to (RED), up to $1 million. Bank of America will match that donation when its cards are used in an Apple Pay transaction.
Those who buy a new album by The Killers, Don’t Waste Your Wishes, on iTunes will see the entire purchase go to (RED), while anyone wanting to know more about the battle against AIDS can avail themselves of a free download of Spike Jonze’s 2010 documentary The Lazarus Effect.
“Whether you want to donate or just learn about the issue, we wanted there to be something for everyone,” says Cook.
So far, (RED) has impacted the lives of 70 million HIV/AIDS sufferers, says (RED) CEO Deb Dugan.
“It takes just 30 cents a day to keep someone alive,” says Dugan, who also joined the conversation at Apple’s headquarters. It ranged from talk about eradicating the global AIDS epidemic by 2030 to the need for companies to use their platforms to create social issue awareness.
“We put our weight behind lots of things in the civil rights area,” says Cook. “Similarly, I think it’s key that people think about what they stand for and help their communities. We always say that we want to leave the world better than we found it. So, we try to thoughtfully decide how we can do that.”
That sort of C-suite level initiative on social matters may be necessary as a new administration gets ready to take office in January.
Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel aside, many tech titans supported president-elect Donald Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton and several publicly voiced concern over Trump’s attitude toward immigrants, Muslims, women and the disabled.
They’ve now found themselves off kilter with the many voters and consumers who put the real estate mogul into office, and they’re now anxiously awaiting word on how Trump and his appointees will treat the wealthy, often left-leaning industry.
Cook was among those tech CEOs favoring Clinton, and according to a trove of emails uncovered by Wikileaks, he was in the running as a possible vice presidential pick before Tim Kaine got the nod.
While campaigning, Trump repeatedly said he would force companies such as Apple to build their products in the United States. A report in Nikkei Asian Review last week cited unnamed sources saying Apple had asked two of its biggest Chinese suppliers about the impact of moving their manufacturing to the U.S. Apple would not comment. Most industry observers believe such a move would drastically increase the cost of Apple’s products.
While companies like Apple may now be defending their manufacturing strategy — or changing it — they may leaned on to support initiatives the Trump-Pence administration won’t.
Corporate America needs to step up