Tim Cook on Apple Car: 'We explore technologies, and we explore products'

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Tim Cook's Privacy Concerns

Apple CEO Tim Cook did not deny that his company is working on a car project in an interview with Fortune published on Monday.

Of course, he didn't confirm it either. When given the opportunity to explain why Apple was looking into cars, he replied:

Yeah, I'm probably not going to do that. The great thing about being here is we're curious people. We explore technologies, and we explore products... And we don't go into very many categories, as you know. We edit very much. We talk about a lot of things and do fewer. We debate many things and do a lot fewer.

It shouldn't be surprising that Apple refused to confirm it's working on a car, given the company's emphasis on secrecy. But Tesla CEO Elon Musk has called the project an "open secret," mostly based on the number of employees going from one company to the other, and recently, neighbors have started to complain of engine noises coming from an Apple lab in Sunnyvale, California.

RELATED: Tim Cook through the years:

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Tim Cook on Apple Car: 'We explore technologies, and we explore products'
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook gestures on stage during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook stands in front of an MacBook on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 9: Apple CEO Tim Cook waves from stage after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Apple Inc. announced the new MacBook as well as more details on the much anticipated Apple Watch, the tech giant's entry into the rapidly growing wearable technology segment as well (Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., right, waves to customers while leaving the sales launch for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at the Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Apple Inc.'s stores attracted long lines of shoppers for the debut of the latest iPhones, indicating healthy demand for the bigger-screen smartphones. The larger iPhone 6 Plus is already selling out at some stores across the U.S. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., left, and the band U2 gesture during a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Cook. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 16: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event on October 16, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple unveiled the new iPad Air 2 tablet, iPad Mini 3 and a Retina iMac. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 02: Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Tim Cook kicked off the annual WWDC which is typically a showcase for upcoming updates to Apple hardware and software. The conference runs through June 6. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - JANUARY 17: (CHINA OUT) Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc., visits a China Mobile shop to celebrate the launch of iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on China Mobile's fourth generation (4G) network on January 17, 2014 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. and China Mobile Limited, the world's largest carrier with over 760 million subscribers, signed a deal on December 23, 2013 after six years of negotiations. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., displays the iPad Air for a photograph during a press event at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Apple Inc. introduced new iPads in time for holiday shoppers, as it battles to stay ahead of rivals in the increasingly crowded market for tablet computers. Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Cook went on to explain the difference between investing in a new category – "like when we start spending on tooling and things like that," according to Cook -- versus simply hiring teams of smart people.

According to Cook, hiring a group of hundreds of people doesn't necessarily mean Apple is committed to the project, but it does sound like Apple has hired a slew of car people.

Cook also commented on how he believes automotive supply chains might work in the future, indicating he's thought the issues through:

[The auto] industry was born much like the industry that we're in, the electronics industry: People began doing their own manufacturing, and then over time it became clear that specializing would probably be a better way to go from the supply-chain point of view. And so most companies begin to go in that way, at different levels and maybe in different ways.

In December, Apple VP of product design Steve Zadesky left the company for personal reasons. He was widely believed to be heading up parts of the electric car project, including hiring. Follow-up reports indicated that the car project may have missed a major milestone.

Earlier this year, Cook warned that Apple was seeing "extreme conditions, unlike anything we've seen before" in the global economy during an earnings call.

Cook clarified that Apple sees the conditions as an opportunity to buy companies at a discount: "And we've been acquiring companies every three to four weeks, on average, for a while. So yes, it's also true that companies get cheaper in both the private markets and the public markets."

One thing that Cook didn't address? Apple's recent public disagreement with the FBI. The interview took place before Cook found himself at the center of a global debate between privacy and homeland security.

The whole interview at Fortune is worth a read.

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