Apple reported its quarterly financials today – although given the prominence of a certain other company in today’s news cycle, you’ll be forgiven for not noticing.
It wasn’t quite the runaway, across-the-board success for Apple that we’ve all grown accustomed to. While profits for the quarter were up year-on-year from $6.6bn to $8.2bn, on the back of a 27% increase in revenues to $36bn, the company reported that it had sold 14 million iPads – not a trivial total by any means, but still well below Wall Street estimates of 17-18 million sales.
It’s no surprise then that Apple’s CEO took some time during an investor conference call to comment on Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet, which officially went on sale today – what better way, after all, to deflect attention from this rare Apple miss than to talk some trash about the new competition?
While admitting that he hadn’t actually used or tried out a Surface for himself in any capacity, Cook's opinions of the product have apparently been formed solely upon what he and his Apple colleagues have seen reported: "What we're reading about it is that it's a fairly compromised, confusing product." He continued:
One of the toughest things you do with what product to make is to make hard trade-offs and decide what a product should be – and we’ve really done that with the iPad, so the user experience is incredible. I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all of those things very well.”
This isn’t the first unusual analogy that Tim Cook has made regarding Microsoft’s next-generation products. Earlier this year – again on an earnings call with investors – he said about Windows 8:
Anything can be forced to converge. Trade-offs at the end of the day don’t please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but won’t please anyone.”
So, Tim Cook believes that Windows RT is a flying car that also floats, and that Windows 8 is a toaster-refrigerator. Got that? Strange comments to be sure, but all the more notable for the open admission that these assessments are uninformed. Prominent tech journalist Ed Bott summed up the absurdity of it all as he listened to the call earlier today:
Tim Cook: "“I haven’t personally played with a Surface yet ..." but he is ready to pass judgment on it. WE HAVE REACHED PEAK STUPID.— Ed Bott (@edbott) October 25, 2012
This article was updated shortly after publishing to more accurately reflect the comments made by Tim Cook during the call. With thanks to CJEric.