Apple COO Jeff Williams spoke at Elon University in a rare speech on Friday, Feb. 22 and gave interesting details at the Global Neighborhood's Great Hall regarding his journey in joining Apple in 1998 (via The Times News).
Williams is a graduate from N.C. State and Duke universities. He started to work for IBM in 1985 until 1998. In 1998, his IBM coworker, Tim Cook, urged him to join Apple. Mind you, Apple was not the same powerhouse it is today back in 1998. The company was going through multiple failures, nearly bankrupt, internal struggles, and more issues.
There was several details Williams talked about, but one of the most intriguing questions asked was from students in the audience. One student in particular asked Williams if Apple had any plans to reduce prices of their products considering the large margins the company has, based on reports from analysts. William completely dismissed these reports, saying that the actual cost of development is not considered:
“The stories that come out about the cost of our products [have been] the bane of my existence from the beginning of time, including our early days,” Williams said. “Analysts don’t really understand the cost of what we do and how much care we put into making our products.”
Williams further explains that when the worked to build the Apple Watch's activity tracker, for example, the company built a physiology lab consisting of 40 nurses and 10,000 participants.
Williams later conceded and said that it's an area that the company is paying attention to:
“It’s something we’re very aware of,” he said. “We do not want to be an elitist company. That’s not — we want to be an egalitarian company, and we’ve got a lot of work going on in developing markets.”
Apple's pricing model of their flagship devices has been a top concern for consumers, investors and analysts alike. For example, during an investor call in January, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “I do think price is a factor” in regard to pricing of the products, especially their flagship iPhones. In the recent years, Apple has continued to increase the price of their phones. More recently, the iPhone XS Max, the company's best offering, starts at $1,099 for the base model.