Apple CEO Tim Cook seems to be taking some heat from his employees following his attendance at a meeting Dec. 14 between President-elect Donald Trump and a number of leaders in the technology sector. An unidentified employee posted a question to Cook on the company’s internal message board addressing the meeting directly, according to a report.
"Last week you joined other tech leaders to meet President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?" the employee asked, according to sources at the TechCrunch news site, which reportedly had access to the Q&A discussion.
Indeed, Trump has been unpopular with many in Silicon Valley, both for the criticism he leveled at the industry during the campaign and for certain policies he has championed. Controversy, for example, surrounds his suggestion to create a government registry to help track radical Islamic terrorists, and another potential plan to deport millions of illegal immigrants. Some view these plans as offensive, and potentially detrimental to the tech industry.
Desktops Are 'Strategic' for Apple
Cook (pictured above) also responded, according to TechCrunch, to an employee's question about whether Mac desktops are currently being considered as strategic for Apple.
"The desktop is very strategic for us," Cook said. "It’s unique compared to the notebook because you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop -- the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance."
The current generation iMac is the "best desktop" the company has ever made, he said, adding that its Retina 5K display is the "best desktop display in the world."
"Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we’re committed to desktops. If there’s any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap," Cook said. Although he didn't get into specifics, Cook advised, "Nobody should worry about that."
Governments Affect Our Business
The Apple CEO defended his decision to attend the tech summit organized by the president-elect based on the fact that Trump, as President, will influence a number of issues such as immigration, government surveillance, and censorship laws that are crucial to the tech sector.
"Governments can affect our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways,” Cook wrote in response.
Trump has been known to chastise some companies publicly and that could be cause for concern. For example, he recently attacked Boeing and Lockheed Martin on Twitter, which drove the stock prices of both businesses down. Lockheed may have lost as much as $4 billion in stock value following the president-elect’s attack.
During the presidential campaign, Trump also threatened to take unspecified action against Amazon, saying that the company "is going to have such problems" once he is in office. Trump has been critical of Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper. Some feel Trump's criticism of Bezos stems from the Post’s politically skewed coverage of him on a number of issues.
But despite the threats, Bezos was one of the tech leaders in attendance at the meeting, along with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Facebook COO Sharon Sandberg, and Alphabet (Google's parent company) CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. The meeting included Trump and three of his adult children.
Not Much Choice?
Although Cook himself has been clear about his concerns regarding a Trump presidency, he may have felt he had little choice in attending.
Apple recently experienced a 17 percent decline in year-on-year revenues, driven party by weakness in its once-core desktop business. The latest update of the MacBook Pro was met with disappointment from consumers who were hoping to see more significant upgrades and even some new desktop models.
Apple has also been experiencing increased competition in the market for creative professionals -- a market it dominated for many years. Microsoft has made major headway in developing tools for artists and other professionals, causing some core Mac users to switch systems. Others have complained that traditional desktop and laptop products are being deprioritized by Apple in favor of devices like the iPhone and iPad.
Cook has promised to wow the public with major new product launches in 2017, but the company is nevertheless facing increased scrutiny. On the positive side, the president-elect made it clear to Cook and other executives at the summit that he wants their companies to succeed, and help spur U.S. economic growth.