Apple’s best hope has to be that a lot of what Trump said was campaign rhetoric.
Donald Trump had some harsh words for Apple during the campaign, but what will his attitude be toward the world’s biggest company now that he is the President-elect?
During the campaign, Trump said he would call for a boycott of Apple products if the company didn’t reverse its strong pro-encryption stance. He also criticized the company for not making more of its products in the U.S.
Boycott all Apple products until such time as Apple gives cellphone info to authorities regarding radical Islamic terrorist couple from Cal
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2016
Apple, for its part, distanced itself from Trump. It reversed its longstanding practice and didn’t provide support to this year’s Republican National Convention.
CEO Tim Cook told Time in March that he hadn’t talked directly with Trump about the issues. “The way I look at it is, Apple is this great American company that could have only happened here,” he said, speaking about the encryption matter. “And we see it as our responsibility to stand up on something like this and speak up for all these people that are thinking what we’re thinking but don’t have the voice.”
He noted at the time that Apple wasn’t the decision maker on this, or other policy matters, but said he felt a calling to stand up to the government. “I mean, too many times in history has this happened, where the government over reached, did something that in retrospect somebody should have stood up and said ‘Stop.’ We see that this is our moment to stand up and say ‘Stop.’”
But, in a clearly prescient move, Cook maintained some ties to the GOP, hosting a fundraiser for House speaker Paul Ryan this summer.
Tim Cook’s biggest hope has to be that Donald Trump didn’t mean a lot of what he said, and that it was the rhetoric of a politician looking to get elected.
“Certainly the tech industry should be rooting against literalism: not only has Trump attacked companies directly, particularly Amazon because of Jeff Bezos’ ownership of the Washington Post, as well as Apple for manufacturing abroad, but his trade rhetoric taken to its logical conclusion will hurt Silicon Valley more than almost anyone else,” Stratechery’s Ben Thompson wrote on Wednesday.
Another key question — for Apple, in particular — is what a Trump election and presidency does for the economy. Apple, even more than its peers, depends on a healthy economy with consumers that have disposable income to spend on pricey phones, tablets and computers.
The silver lining for Apple (and other cash-rich tech companies) is that they may finally get to bring home billions of dollars in profits recorded and stored overseas. And if Trump follows through on plans to lower corporate taxes in general, Apple and other tech companies won’t have the same incentive to store cash overseas in the future.
Cook has been silent on Twitter since Trump’s election and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.