Apple’s Tim Cook: Microsoft Surface ‘compromised’ and ‘confusing’ — like a flying car

On Apple’s earnings call just now, CEO Tim Cook was asked for his opinion of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and its Surface tablet, and their potential to challenge the iPad in the tablet market.

“I haven’t personally played with a Surface yet but what we’re reading about it is that it’s a fairly compromised, confusing product,” he replied.

The comments come as Microsoft launches its new operating system and the Surface, its first computer.  Cook spoke about the need to make hard trade-offs in product development, and he offered a new metaphor.

“I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but don’t think it would do any of those things well,” he said.

Reviewers have given the Surface better marks, with Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg calling it “beautifully and solidly built” and “the purest expression of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 touchscreen operating system.”

On a previous earnings call, Cook likened hybrid tablet-notebooks to combining a toaster and a refrigerator.

Earlier on the call today, Cook said Apple sees further room for the iPad to chip away at the traditional market for Windows PCs. “If you look at the size of the PC market there is an enormous opportunity for Apple there,” he said.

Apple this week unveiled the iPad Mini, with a screen size of 7.9 inches, but Cook was adamant in saying that the company won’t make a smaller iPad. “We would not make one of the 7 inch tablets. We don’t think they’re good products. We would never make one. One of the reasons is size,” he said, noting that the overall difference in screen real estate is about 35 percent between a 7 inch tablet and a 7.9 inch tablet. (Updated: See discussion in comments below.)

Apple sold 14 million iPads in its latest quarter, up 26 percent but about 1 million units below the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

 

  • http://twitter.com/Buzzmodo Buzz Bruggeman

    If the quote is: “One of the reasons is size. The difference in just the real estate size vs. the 7.9 vs. 7 (inches) is 30 percent”, then I just did the math. If the iPad Mini is 7.9″ x 5.3″, and a 7″ one would be 7″x5.3″, then size difference is 12% by my math, e.g., 41.87 sq. in., vs. 37.1 sq. in. Is math different in Cuppertino? #Justaskin..

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Hi Buzz – I just went back and checked, and I got the quote wrong initially — he actually said it’s 35%! (I’ve corrected it above.) Here’s the key: The 7 or 7.9 inches is the diagonal measurement. When you translate the screen size into square inches, the iPad mini is 29.6 square inches vs. 21.9 inches for the Nexus 7, for example, which is where the 35 percent comes in.

  • Guest

    In my opinion, Tim must find a lot of things confusing. That’s why every Apple product introduced under his stewardship has been:

    1. Existing product with higher resolution screen.

    2. Existing product in smaller size.

    3. Existing product in smaller size and with higher resolution screen.

    Is it any wonder that investors and consumers alike are abandoning Apple to search for the next innovation elsewhere?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondouglasfarris Jason Farris

    Compromised? It’s stunningly no-compromise. These comments coming on the heels of the iPad mini launch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SethThomas98 Seth Thomas

    last time I heard a CEO say this it was time to short MSFT for a decade.

  • SilverSee

    (With apologies to GeekWire for quoting from another site…)
    In the meantime, here’s how Steven Sinofsky recently characterized Apple’s and Google’s tablet efforts, according to Anand Lal Shimpi at AnandTech:

    “A week ago, I sat in an auditorium and listened to Steve Sinofsky talk about the tablet market. He talked about how the iPad was a great device, and a logical extension of the iPhone….

    He talked about Android tablets, and Google’s learning process there, going from a phone OS on a tablet to eventually building Holo and creating a tablet-specific experience. He had nothing but good things to say about both competitors. I couldn’t tell just how sincere he was being, I don’t know Mr. Sinofsky all that well, but his thoughts were genuine, his analysis spot-on. Both Apple and Google tablets were good, in their own ways.

    What Steve said next didn’t really resonate with me until I had spent a few days with Surface. He called Surface and Windows RT Microsoft’s “perspective” on tablets.”

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6385/microsoft-surface-review

    You tell me: which of these two executives sounds more confident?

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      No apology necessary, very interesting stuff. Thanks.

  • zato

    “Reviewers have given the Surface better marks…”

    Really? What reviewers? Engadget said don’t buy, Gizmodo trashed it, Verge not happy with it.

  • LeSavant

    Tim Cook could be a poster child for Peter’s Principle…

    While he was the Apple’s COO, there were hardly any money lost due to supply issues – best in business. But then they made him the CEO – which he is proving to be average at best.

    Also, there is no conviction in his voice when he criticizes a competitor because he does not have the track record, passion or keen eye of Steve Jobs.

  • G

    I am saddened by Tim Cook’s comment.. It comes across as very narrow minded, and that’s never a good thing for a technologist. Not too far ago Steve Ballmer made a comment: “No one wants a $500 phone”. Well, he was wrong and he’s been derided many times for that.. I am sincerely hoping that Microsoft can prove Tim Cook wrong.. 5 years down the line we might be laughing at Tim Cook’s remark!

    • guest

      It all depends on whether Tim Cook is right or wrong in the end. If he turns out to be as wrong as Ballmer was when he commented on the iPhone, then yes, people will ridicule him for that remark. But if Cook’s comment turns out to be correct, then everyone will ridicule Ballmer. Once again.

  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    When Apple executives attack their rivals, it’s negative PR which reflects more on Apple than on the company they’re trying to put down. It’s disrespectful. Microsoft never attacks its rivals in this way. Apple is showing its true colours as a very different corporation to the one many of us once loved.

    As ever, this classic example of Apple propaganda has a hollow ring to it — Cook himself admits that he is criticising Surface without actually bothering to try it first.

    The fact that Cook felt the need to mention Surface at all clearly indicates that he has identified it as a threat. If it wasn’t worth mentioning, he would not have mentioned it.

    Apple’s latest (Q4) results, announced a few hours ago, are disappointing — and overwhelmingly dominated by, and dependent on, one product: their same old iPhone.

    The corporation’s brief rise to success seems too dependent on one product, iOS, which is now rapidly being eclipsed by countless cheaper and better devices.

    • leero

      You might want to look at how Gates and Ballmer reacted to the original iPhone and iPad before you make claims about how “respectful” Microsoft has been of Apple.

      • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

        There is no comparison. What do you mean??

        The could have called iPad an overpriced toy because it is, but they were respectful instead.

        Bear in mind that Gates invented the tablet, albeit ahead fits time.

  • http://twitter.com/ihotnatured David

    he is just jealous HAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA fucking ungrateful dick microsoft makes apps for apple, lol.

  • http://twitter.com/warex3d warex3D

    I want a flying car!