Apple COO Jeff Williams 'optimistic' about post-coronavirus US economy
'I feel great about the economy in the long haul'
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Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams is “optimistic” about the U.S. economy’s ability to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic as states around the country explore reopening businesses.
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“I am optimistic. As you look around, you see the resilience of the people working through this challenging time and when I take a look inside of Apple, I couldn’t be more encouraged,” Williams said in an exclusive interview with FOX Business Network correspondent Susan Li airing Thursday. “During last quarter, even though these are challenging times, we launched three new products. I feel great about the economy in the long haul and it’s just a matter of getting from here to there.”
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Despite a tough landscape that brought many businesses to a halt, the U.S. tech sector, led by Apple, has avoided the worst of the coronavirus-related uncertainty. After warning in February that it expected to miss its guidance due to supply chain interruptions in China and store closures, Apple posted second-quarter earnings last week that exceeded Wall Street’s muted expectations.
Williams said Apple has addressed its supply chain issues ahead of the release of its latest iPhone model, which is expected to be unveiled in the fall. He declined to comment on speculation the release could be delayed due to the pandemic.
“Our supply chains are running largely at capacity and people are continuing to work,” Williams said. “I couldn't be prouder of the Apple team and how resourceful they've been. You'll see us opening retail stores in the coming weeks. And like I said, we're bullish in the long haul.”
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Like many other companies, Apple broke tradition by not providing guidance for the upcoming quarter. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the decision was made due to uncertainty related to the pandemic’s long-term impact.
At the same time, Apple affirmed its commitment to contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy over a five-year period.
The U.S. economy faces a long recovery from the pandemic’s widespread economic devastation. Gross domestic product shrank by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020, marking its sharpest decline since 2009 and the first drop since 2014. Nearly 22 million Americans were unemployed as of mid-April as the pandemic forced mass layoffs in several industries.
Apple has taken a leading role in helping to combat COVID-19 and speed up efforts to reopen the U.S. economy. The company has donated millions of dollars to relief efforts, sourced more than 30 million face masks for hard-hit communities and distributed nearly 10 million face shields for frontline health care workers. Apple awarded $10 million to Copan Diagnostics to ramp up production of COVID-19 testing kits.
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The tech giant is also partnering with Google on the development of COVID-19 contact-tracing technology, a platform meant to help public health officials and authorities track outbreaks for a pinpointed response. The initiative has drawn intense scrutiny in recent days, with critics raising questions about potential privacy abuses.
Williams said Apple designed the technology with the privacy of ordinary Americans in mind.
“It's being built in a privacy-friendly way,” he said. “This is something we spearheaded and Apple has a long track record, as you know, of placing privacy first. And so the apps will actually be built by the public health authorities, but the APIs will limit their ability to do some of the things that you would worry about from a privacy standpoint. That's the reason we put it out and people can trust in it."