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Tim Cook Says Apps Will Make the Apple Watch as Essential as the iPhone

Tim Cook is riding high as Apple pushes past the $700 billion mark in value ahead of Apple Watch launch.

Asa Mathat

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook touted the forthcoming Apple Watch as an essential device that will be driven by a host of personalized apps, setting it apart from anything else out on the market.

“There are several things that are called smartwatches, but I’m not sure you could name any,” Cook said in remarks Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. “Certainly, there are none that have changed the way people lived their lives. That’s what we want to do.”

Cook said consumers will be surprised at the breadth of what the Apple Watch can do. The device’s subtle notifications — like little bursts of information about, say, a sports score — appear with a turn of the wrist.

“Everybody’s going to have their favorite thing,” Cook said of the watch, which is due out in April. “I use mine in the gym all the time to track my activity level. If I sit for too long it will actually tap me on the wrist to get up and move. A lot of doctors believe that sitting is the new cancer.”

Of course, part of the challenge for the Apple Watch is the device will likely work best when coupled to an iPhone, limiting the potential market size.

Cook also used the forum to discuss Apple’s meteoric growth in China, a market where revenue swelled from $1 billion to more than $38 billion over the last five years. He attributed the growth to the time invested in understanding the Chinese market, and to critical partnerships with mobile carriers and tech players, such as search giant Baidu.

Apple’s mobile payment service, Apple Pay, also is seeing surprisingly fast adoption, Cook said. Apple Pay now accounts for $2 of every $3 spent on what the industry calls “contactless” payments, made via the smartphone. Since the service’s launch, Apple has signed on 2,000 banks and credit unions and received interest from a number of retailers. Even Jet Blue airlines jumped on board the Apple Pay bandwagon to pay for in-flight entertainment, food and beverages.

“We see it happening faster and faster,” Cook said of the adoption. “This was only possible because we could control and design the hardware, the software and the service. You can imagine trying to do this with several different companies. You would be pulling your hair out.”

The remark could have been an arch reference to a planned competing service, called CurrentC, which is backed by major retailers including Walmart.

Cook’s timing at the event was impeccable as Apple had surpassed $700 billion in market value as he was speaking, the first company in history to hit that mark.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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