Technology: Companies

Apple and Alibaba hint at partnership

Josh Lipton and Betsy Cline
Cook pushes back, Ma's Google challenge
Cook pushes back, Ma's Google challenge

Apple and Alibaba 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."

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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.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about Apple Pay during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.
Getty Images

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However, some merchants such as CVS and Rite Aid 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.

Read MoreApple smashes expectations for sales, profits; shares jump

"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.

Read MoreWhat record Mac sales say about the iPad market

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

Apple's CEO also made a point of saying that the tech titan is not in the business of collecting, storing or selling data about its users, a possible shot at its rival Google.

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.