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Described as "feisty," Steve Jobs was on form yesterday at Apple's shareholder meeting--his first back since the recent health issues that forced him to step down temporarily as CEO. One, Infinite Loop, on the Apple Campus, was the venue, and the event kicked-off at 10 a.m. sharp. And the most interesting part of the show was trying to work out just what Apple is going to do with its gigantic cash reserves.
Amongst all the fabulous news--the company's $40 billion war chest, the expansion into China at an incredible warp-speed rate, there was one rather dispiriting piece of news: The shareholders voted against proposals to measure its impact on the environment--something board member Al Gore won't be too happy about. (The former VPOTUS, will, however, have been chuffed when co-lead director of the Apple Board, Andrea Jung, following a shareholder's proposal for more female directors, suggested Al's wife Tipper. Although, as the force behind the PMRC, she might have something to say about the company's recent shenanigans in the row over explicit apps.)
Jobs revealed that there are plans afoot to open 25 Apple Stores in China. Despite poor iPhone sales over there, where the cellphone market is absolutely vast, Apple does not have the same problems that a certain company we could mention has, as it doesn't clash with Chinese regulations. The company's Q1 conference call back in January showed that sales were up 40 per cent in most of Europe, 70% in Australia, and 100% in China.
Let's go back to the $40 billion in cash. (Wouldn't it be great if it was all held in used notes, taped up in battered suitcases under Steve's bed?) Rather than dole some of it out in the form of dividends to investors, Jobs advocated that they use it for "big, bold" risks. This is great medium-term strategy, but in the long term, Apple needs to translate it into something really worth talking about. As well as the dinky new products they've probably got up the sleeves of their black turtlenecks, my money's on turning iTunes into an iMedia store, and developing iWork and iLife into the Cloud.
[Image Via Apple]