TECHNOLOGY

Apple CEO Tim Cook meets with Spanish PM in surprise visit

Steve Jobs’ successor also met with leaders of Spain’s tech industry and praised the country’s “creativity”

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez.VÍCTOR BLANCO / GRES

Apple CEO Tim Cook paid a surprise visit to Spain on Thursday, when he met with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and with Spanish app and game developers. Cook was also there to promote the Spanish launch of the company’s smart speaker HomePod, in a presentation that featured the singer Rosalía.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office, Sánchez and Cook exchanged remarks about future challenges “in the current context of economic globalization and accelerated technological change.” Sánchez also discussed his plans to make Spain a “Startup Nation” by “creating a business climate that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation in the fields of new technologies and digitalization.”

The visit completed Cook’s European tour, which also took him to France to see President Emmanuel Macron and to Germany to talk with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Before the face-to-face with Sánchez, which was not on the PM’s official agenda, Cook met with Spanish developers from Lingo Kids, a company that has created a popular app to help children learn English, and from Social Point, which makes video games for cellphones and posts annual sales of $120 million.

But one of the main goals of the visit was to introduce the new HomePod, which will be available in Spanish stores starting today. With the product, Apple is seeking to compete with Amazon’s smart speaker Echo and Google’s Home assistant. The product became available with Spanish-language support a few weeks ago.

Spain is a growing market that stands out for its creativity over other countries

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

“Spain is a growing market that stands out for its creativity over other countries,” said Cook, who walked out in public toward the end of the HomePod presentation in Madrid, and sat down on a stool next to Rosalía.

Speaking inside the ground floor of the Apple building, the executive said that “music is fundamental in people’s lives” and that music is Apple’s big bet in the competitive technology market. Rosalía used her iPhone, which was connected to a HomePod, to play three songs from her upcoming album, El mal querer, due for release on November 2.

The HomePod is voice controlled through Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, and it can also communicate with other smart-home appliances through Apple software named HomeKit. The launch comes in response to the success of Amazon’s Echo, particularly in the US market, where it has a 70% share of smart speaker sales.

English version by Susana Urra.

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