Apple and Internet Behemoth Alibaba Could Soon Be Partners

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Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Josh Lipton and Betsy Cline

Apple (AAPL) and Alibaba (BABA) could soon be collaborators.

At The Wall Street Journal's WSJD live event, Alibaba's founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma was asked whether he would consider a partnership between Apple Pay and Alipay, Alibaba's payments company.

"I am very interested in that," Ma said. "A good marriage needs both sides to work."

When asked about such a partnership Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We are going to talk about getting married later this week," adding, "I have the utmost respect for Jack."

It's been just over a week, but Cook says Apple Pay is already a big success. Within the first 72 hours of Apple Pay's debut, the new mobile payment service had already exceeded more than one million card activations, he said.

"We are just getting started," Cook said. He expects more merchants to adopt the service because he believes it's an easier, faster and more secure way to buy goods.

However, some merchants such as CVS (CVS) and Rite Aid (RAD) have refused the service. Cook called the tension between Apple and these merchants a "skirmish." Apple Pay is currently available at 220,000 locations around the country.

Cook went on to talk about a wide range of subjects including activist investor Carl Icahn's call for Apple to boost its buyback program.

Cook defended Apple's current capital return program, noting that the company bought back $17 billion of stock last quarter alone.

"I don't spend a lot of time talking to Carl," Cook said.

Apple recently reported quarterly results that beat analyst estimates, selling nearly 40 million iPhones. iPad shipments, however, missed wall street's expectations.

Cook remains confident in that product, however, noting that the tablet is now used in a variety of markets, from education to enterprise.

"I am very excited about that business," Cook said.

Apple's CEO also made a point of saying that the tech titan isn't in the business of collecting, storing or selling data about its users, a possible shot at its rival Google (GOOG) (GOOGL).

Cook said that Apple isn't interested in knowing the temperature of its users' homes, a dig at Google, which completed its acquisition of Nest, a smart thermostat maker, for $3 billion in February.
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