Apple chief executive told students today that Apple will have “more than 6,000 people” employed in Cork when a new 1,000-job expansion for its Hollyhill campus is completed.
“Apple is proud to call Ireland home,” he told assembled students from the Philosophical society in Trinity College.
We don’t see ourselves as just a company that is in Ireland, we see ourselves rooted here.”
The move, say senior government figures, is significant in light of an upcoming European Commission verdict on whether Ireland provided illegal state aid to the company through its taxation system.
"From an Apple perspective and an Irish government perspective, the announcement shows that whatever controversy there is around Apple’s tax status it hasn’t affected their enthusiasm for Ireland and they’re continuing to invest here,” said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan
“They’re very important and they’re particularly important to the economy of Cork."
Speaking to students this morning, Mr Cook said that Ireland was a “champion” for diversity and same-sex rights around the world.
“This country has championed the cause of LGBT people around the world,” he said. “It has also been a leader in the fight for human rights and has stood up for freedom of expression on the internet. Ireland shares our values of tolerance, diversity and equal rights both inside and outside the workplace.”
Mr Cook also described his own experience in “standing up” as an LGBT person.
“I saw kids being bullied at school and people being fired at work because they were gay,” he said. “I came to the conclusion that I needed to do something. There would be no donation that could match standing up and saying that I am proud to be gay and that it is one of the greatest gifts that God gave me. I think we need more people who will do that. It’s the single most important thing that they can do.”
“A kid in rural Ireland or rural USA might say ‘wow, if he can do it, so can I’. That’s how I feel.”
Mr Cook had some sharp words for competitors. Despite saying that Apple’s relationship with Microsoft as “really good”, he described the software giant’s new Surface Book laptop as “diluted”.
“It’s a product that tries too hard to do too much,” he said. “It’s trying to be a tablet and a notebook and it really succeeds at being neither. It’s sort of deluded.”
On the iPad, sales of which are currently falling as people buy larger iPhones, Mr Cook said he was “bullish”.
“I believe the iPad will return to growth,” he said.
This week, Apple launched the iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch version of the tablet that has more power and works with a keyboard and a stylus (called ‘Pencil’).
“I only travel now with an iPad Pro and and iPhone, that’s it,” he said.
Earlier this week, Mr Cook questioned why anyone would buy a PC anymore, despite Apple MacBook sales increasing in recent years.
Asked about Apple Pay, Mr Cook hinted that Ireland will soon get the payment service, which works in ordinary retailers with iPhones and Apple Watch devices.
“Your kids will not know what money is,” he told the assembled students.
However, he said that Apple does not harbour ambitions of becoming a financial institution in its own right.
“Nobody wants to become a bank anymore,” he said. “And we don’t want to become a bank.”