Tim Cook talks cash, China, and iCloud

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Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t shied away from the big topics in his address at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference in San Francisco today, taking on such weighty subjects as Apple’s hefty cash pile and the controversy over labour practices at the company’s Asian factories.

Speaking just days after the company’s share value rose above US$500 – the price of its coveted iPads – Cook upped the ante on promises to make a decision on what’s to be done with the company’s near US$100 billion in cash reserves

Cook has stated previously that he is ‘not religious’ about holding or spending cash; today he acknowledged that the topic is being discussed more often, and in greater detail than ever before.

If the company starts paying regular dividends from the cash, share prices could go even higher, as investors who trade only in dividend-paying stocks join the throng of buyers looking to get their hands on a piece of the world’s largest business.

A potential fly in the ointment, though, is the issue of factory conditions, which is becoming a growing concern among the public. 

Cook also confronted this issue in his address, promising that no-one in the tech industry is doing more to improve working conditions than Apple. 

Just yesterday the company announced that the Fair Labour Association (FLA) had started its audits of Apple’s suppliers, including Foxconn factories in China, at Apple’s request.

Finally, Cook revealed that more than 100 million people have now signed up to Apple’s iCloud service, adding that the platform is of ‘profound’ importance to the company’s long-term goals. 

There were 84 million people using iCloud at the time of Apple’s financial results conference call just three weeks ago, meaning adoption is growing at over 5 million per week. 

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