Apple’s board, chock full of environmental activists like Al Gore and Tim Cook, rarely miss a chance to polish their premium brand’s image with the faithful climate change cabal. This happened yesterday when CEO Tim Cook told a skeptical Apple shareholder and conservative think tank member to, “get out of the stock!” after he asked why Apple invests in ‘sustainability’ projects that negatively impact the bottom line.
The normally even tempered Cook showed a rare bit of angry emotion when the National Center for Public Policy Research member asked him whether he shouldn’t focus on the bottom line rather than on expensive and inefficient green projects. The main stream media piled in behind him accusing the questioner of being a climate change denier – the classic slur of the true believers in the alarmist dogma of the militant green movement.
Under Cook’s reign Apple has invested heavily in solar, wind, etc and so now 75% of their energy needs are claimed to be met by renewables. No word on whether that includes the massive Foxconn manufacturing plants in China, so for now we’ll take Cook at his word.
Renewables are notoriously expensive. Here in the UK onshore wind power is price twice the national grid price and offshore power an eyewateringly treble the grid price at 150KwH. Clearly ‘green’ energy is bad for Apple’s bottom line. Or is it?
Apple’s products are lovely, stylish, trendy and expensive. Worryingly for Apple, the iPhone has lost gobs of market share to cheaper but functional smartphones from Korea and China. Many analysts are telling Apple to cut prices, reduce margins and to chase market share, but Apple’s Cook refuses to budge. He maintains his price points and margins in spite of the global trend toward lower technology prices. And so far his strategy is holding up. Apple has not been forced to cut prices and its revenue and income numbers remain strong.
So keeping the Apple polished by committing to green tech may just help keep the hipsters thinking Apple is still cool enough to continue to justify the crazy high prices.
Jeff Wolfers is a tech-minded, banker-loving, IT exec based somewhere between the United States, the UK, and the Middle East. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffInLondon