Apple CEO Steve Jobs described Apple's forthcoming products as "the best I've ever seen in my life", and told Apple shareholders that the Mac's transition to Intel processors will pay off in the long run.
Jobs, chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer, and senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller answered investors' questions last night during Apple's annual shareholder meeting at its Cupertino campus.
During the session, the three executives remained typically tight-lipped about Apple's future product plans. When pressed by one shareholder about what product releases to expect in the future, Jobs simply said, "I can't tell you."
However, Apple's CEO didn't let secrecy stop his enthusiasm for those secret products.
"The new products in the pipeline are the best I've ever seen in my life," Jobs said.
Media centre prayer
Another shareholder requested that the company make "the ultimate media centre," a personal video recorder that could record television programs and share media on his computer.
"We hear you loud and clear," Jobs responded.
During the meeting, Jobs admitted that the Mac's transition to Intel-based processors is probably costing the company some hardware sales as customers wait for new models to hit the market. But he expressed confidence that the strategy will pay off for the company in the long run.
"Intel has a great roadmap," Jobs said. "This new [Intel Core Duo] chip is phenomenal - it blows away anything other suppliers have, including our former suppliers."
Jobs was particularly effusive about the MacBook Pro, a laptop powered by an Intel Core Duo chip that just this week added a 17-inch configuration.
"Everyone wants a MacBook Pro because they are so bitchin'," he said.
Unlike last year's shareholder meeting, which included occasionally heated exchanges between Jobs and an environmental group protesting the company's recycling policies, Thursday's meeting remained largely civil, even when environmental questions arose.
Larry Fahn, a former president of the Sierra Club, said a recycling program recently announced by Apple didn't go far enough. He also said that Apple has only recycled 2.4 per cent of the computer equipment sold seven years ago, compared to 10 per cent recycled by Dell and 7 per cent by HP.
"We are concerned that besides being a hip, cool company, Apple is falling short of the industry environmentally," Fahn said. "I would like to thank you for the computer take-back scheme introduced last week, but there is still a long way to go."
In response, Jobs noted that the Sierra Club recently voted Apple one of its top ten environmentally friendly companies. "So there is some kind of disconnect with your numbers," he said. Jobs also noted that Apple's new recycling program takes any computer, not just Macs, "because we like switchers, too."
"I think there are a lot of PCs that should be recycled," Schiller added.
Jobs said environmental groups focusing on Apple can be frustrating because the company does a lot of work in the background that isn's always recognised. He also suggested groups wanting to make an impact should target CRTs since those types of monitors pose a great environmental risk.
"We only have one CRT product left and that's the eMac," Jobs noted. "We could be sitting here next year with none."
Jobs' role at Disney
Talk at the Apple shareholder meeting turned to the other company once headed by Jobs - Pixar, which was bought by Disney in January for $7.4 billion. The purchase made Jobs the largest individual shareholder of the entertainment giant.
Asked about his role at Disney following the Pixar deal, Jobs dismissed any fears that he might scale back his role at Apple to become more involved with Disney.
"I think Bob Iger is the best person to be running Disney," Jobs said. "I'll be on the Board, which will require less of my time than when I was running Pixar."
Jobs also looked to calm any concerns about Apple's market share and how a slowdown in the industry might affect the company. "You can talk about the negatives of 4 to 5 per cent market share, but it's kind of like being in the ocean," Jobs said. "We're on the bottom, so it doesn't matter what the weather is like up top."