2:16 PM/ET:Apple says the North Carolina data center construction (large facility) will be done in the spring.
2:14 PM/ET: Questioner just asked Tim Cook if he has seen a piece about Asian manufacturing that's now being distributed. Cook answers: "Unfortunately if it's not on ESPN or CNBC I wouldn't have seen it."
He goes on to talk about Apple's efforts to ensure worker safety and labor standards.
1:44 PM/ET: Question on cash: Oppenheimer, the CFO says Apple still plans to hold onto it.
A questioner wishes Steve Jobs the best, looks forward to seeing him next year — that brings applause.
1:42 PM/ET: Tim Cook notes that Apple did $1b in China biz in fiscal year 2009, $3b in '10, and $2.5b in the first quarter of 2011 alone.
1:24 PM/ET: The preliminary results, based on proxies: all votes went as expected, except:
Shareholders approved the final proposal requiring a majority vote for directors.
1:21 PM/ET: A representative from the Laborers Union has presented the proposal that Apple adopt a detailed succession plan. She says the union has $34B in assets. The proposal does not ask the company to name names, she says, so management's fears about the proposal are unfounded.
CALPERS presents the proposal for an affirmative majority vote on board members. The goal isn't to tell the board what to do — "Don't have a dog, and bark yourself, as we would say in Britain," the presenter says — but to ensure that the board is democratically elected in the first place.
Voting is now beginning.1:09 PM/ET: Shareholders are still entering, nearly filling the overflow room; attendance is unusually high.
1:05 PM/ET: Quorum has been declared, with more than 3/4 of shares represented in person or by proxy
1:01 PM/ET: Tim Cook has taken the stage and is introducing the board, all of whom are present (with the exception of Jobs)
How Will Apple's Leadership Team Function Without Steve Jobs?
That's the question that dominates the Apple shareholder meeting today, capping a year where the company's stock has touched all-time highs.
Though investors are elated about Apple's performance — its market cap has risen nearly 75% in the past year, to make it the second most valuable U.S. company — there's also quite a bit of uncertainty.
Jobs, the co-founder and CEO, has taken an indefinite medical leave, and some shareholders want a clearer sense of what the company would look like in a post-Jobs era. They'd also like more say over how the company is run.
Two shareholder proposals illustrate that dynamic: Proposal #5 on the agenda would require Apple to publicly share its executive succession plans, and #6 would allow shareholders to block the election of directors who run unopposed by withholding their votes. Apple is trying to block both proposals, for different reasons.
Apple wants to keep its succession plans secret, the company says, to avoid tying the board's hands and to prevent rivals from poaching ambitious executives who aren't on the short list. And the company wants to prevent shareholders from blocking uncontested directors because it says procedural glitches could stall the ascension of new directors, even when shareholders aren't intentionally withholding their approval.
Both proposals are seen as likely to fail. Other technology companies have successfully argued against making succession plans public, for reasons similar to Apple's. And there's often little appetite for imposing restrictions on a board when a stock is performing as well as Apple's has lately.
Check back here for updates from the shareholder meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT at Apple headquarters in Cupertino.