Apple CEO rejects notion of iOS-powered laptops

Tim Cook
Tim Cook, Apple. Image: Apple/IDGNS

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17 November 2015 | 0

Apple CEO Tim Cook has again rejected the idea of following in the footsteps of rival Microsoft to build a notebook that runs his company’s mobile operating system, iOS.

“We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” Cook told The Irish Independent. “Putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”

But take Cook’s comments with a grain – or more – of salt. “These are tactical communications, nothing about what they might do, or what they potentially will do,” noted Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in a Monday interview.

Cook, who has been on a swing through Europe to meet with Irish officials about an expansion of Apple’s facility in the country, and in the UK to trumpet the iPad Pro, took time to take a swipe at the competition.

“What that would wind up doing,” Cook said, referring to a notebook/tablet analogous to Microsoft’s new Surface Book, “is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants”.

In earlier interviews while in Europe, Cook had previously bashed the Surface Book, a 2-in-1 with an integrated keyboard and detachable screen that reverts to a tablet when held separately. “It’s trying to be a tablet and a notebook and it really succeeds at being neither. It’s sort of deluded,” Cook said of the Surface Book.

Cook’s stance is not new: The CEO has repeatedly said Apple had no interest in 2-in-1 devices, at one point calling tablets with keyboards akin to a Frankenstein mashup of toaster and refrigerator. That, of course, was long before Apple decided to join the market with the 12.9″ iPad Pro and its optional Smart Keyboard.

But Apple won’t take the next step blazed by Microsoft and its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners: Crafting a notebook with a screen that when separated from the body, serves as a touch-enabled tablet. “What we’ve tried to do is to recognise that people use both iOS and Mac devices,” Cook told the newspaper, tacitly encouraging them to buy both.

Good form
Cook may be rejecting the idea of a device that merges the iOS software model with the Mac’s hardware profile, but some analysts were convinced that, under certain circumstances, Apple would produce a notebook form factor that relies on the iPad’s OS.

Microsoft’s somewhat-similar Surface Pro line, now in its fourth generation, may have boosted the Redmond, Wash. company’s revenue, but unit sales of the portfolio have been puny in the context of the total notebook market. In Microsoft’s 2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30, the company booked $3.6 billion in Surface revenue, which translated to between 3 and 4 million devices. During that same span, global sales of traditional laptops were in excess of 150 million.

Others were less certain than Bajarin that Apple would react with something similar to the Surface Book, even if that device – or its design – took off in the Windows world.

In 2010, Apple co-founder – and at the time, CEO – Steve Jobs compared PCs to trucks, tablets to cars. “PCs are going to be like trucks,” Jobs said then. “They’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value, but they’re going to be used by one out of X people.”

Greg Keizer, Computerworld

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