Apple CEO Tim Cook on PCs, tablets and avoiding the ‘baggage from the past’

Microsoft is pitching its upcoming Windows 8 as a “no compromise” experience — working across desktop PCs, notebooks, tablets and hybrid devices — but Apple CEO Tim Cook remains unconvinced that such an approach will be effective.

Speaking at AllThingsD’s D10 conference in California last night, Cook expanded on the recent comments in which he likened combining a tablet and a PC to merging a toaster and a fridge.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is questioned by Walt Mossberg at the D conference last night. (Asa Mathat | All Things Digital)

“If you take a view that says, this is another PC, all of a sudden you’re pulling all of the leg weights of the PC market, and I think you wind up with something maybe not that dissimilar to what a tablet was 10 years ago,” Cook told Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg. “We didn’t invent the tablet market, it was there. We invented the modern tablet.”

He continued, “Products are about trade-offs. And you have to make tough decisions, you have to choose. The fact is, the more you look at a tablet as a PC, the more the baggage from the past affects the product.”

On another topic, Microsoft and Apple are on the same page, as the Apple CEO criticized companies that seek premium royalties on patents required to implement industry standards. Microsoft is taking a similar stance in its battle with Motorola, recently acquired by Google, over patents on wireless technologies and online video.

Cook also talked about the growth of Apple TV, noting that the company has sold 2.7 million of the devices in the last six months, roughly double the pace of sales last year. However, he acknowledged that it’s still in the realm of hobby for the company, not a primary driver of Apple’s business.

Microsoft’s corporate communications chief Frank Shaw responded on Twitter, “66m Xbox customers streaming gobs of great content and playing great games = not hobby.”

Cook declined to tell Swisher and Mossberg about any plans by the company to make its own TV set.

Tony Bates, the president of Microsoft’s Skype division is speaking at the conference later this week, and one of the key questions is how Microsoft will incorporate Skype into Windows 8. Microsoft is planning to issue a release preview of Windows 8 in early June.

See the full AllThingsD live blog of Cook’s appearance.

  • Guest

    Apple’s arrogance is as distasteful as MS’s used to be when they were king. Maybe worse. It’s also self-serving. When you’re the market share loser in PCs and winner in tablets, what are you going to say, that PC OS hybrids are the future? It’s also sort of funny to hear Apple now pretend their iPad OS is something other than an offshoot of their desktop OS, OS X. They used to promote it as such, but now it’s “iOS” and they’re busy trying to make out that it’s got no relationship to the past. Funny stuff.

    Nevertheless, MS could have done a much better job making the move between PC and tablet modes less jarring. Sinofsky did a god job fixing Vista. But when it came to “re-imagining” Windows, it seems his data-driven design philosophy lost sight of the fact that OSes at their best need to be a work of art, at least on the UI side.

    On Skype, isn’t the key question Bates (and Ballmer) better start answering soon: “How do they plan on making this $8.5 billion acquisition even begin to make financial sense?”

    • Holio

      The same can be said of MS – when you’re the market share winner in PCs and loser in tablets, what are you going to say, that post-PC is the future?

      iOS may be based on OS X underpinnings but they are totally different in UI/UX, where it matters to the end user.

      I’m a little mixed on what you mean about your comment on an OS needing to be a work of art. MS bet the UI farm for Metro, is that not the ‘work of art’ necessary to jumpstart a refreshed user experience? Or is it not as elegant of a solution for you?

  • Ted Mechellet

    Another Mossberg softball interview. Why not some hard questions:
    - Why is Apple 10 years behind MSFT in virus protection?
    - Why does Apple use slave labor in China?
    - Why is XCode so antiquated ?
    - Are you concerned that Apple is essentially a cell phone company now?
    - What will Apple do when it inevitably falls out of fashion?

    • Guest

      579.17 +6.90‎ (1.21%‎)

      Nasdaq 1.17%

  • Guest

    “Microsoft’s corporate communications chief Frank Shaw responded on Twitter, “66m Xbox customers streaming gobs of great content and playing great games = not hobby.””

    Lifetime unprofitable after thirteen years = not really a business either.

    • Guest

      Frank used to make decent points. But lately he has joined Steve in denial. MS thought they couldn’t be disrupted by Apple in music, phones, or tablets either. Now they’ve lost their revenue, profit, cash, growth, and market cap leads to Apple and STILL they underestimate them!

      Apple is already a force in gaming via mobile. They already have a content library that MS can only dream of. Siri rules the voice assistant’s space, and iPhones and iPads are flooding into homes. It’s only a matter of time before Apple figures out how to bring those together in a way that similarly reinvents and disrupts the living room. And then Frank and Steve can sit on the porch together, recalling when MS led music, phones, tablets, gaming, even PCs maybe, and wondering where it all went wrong.