Apple on tablets: Windows is big and heavy, Android is vapor

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After announcing another record quarter, Apple COO Tim Cook answered questions from analysts following the release of Apple's report of record quarterly earnings. Given the huge explosion that is about to occur in the tablet market, we were particularly interested in the iPad-related queries.

Below is his answer to the question "Can you comment on how you’re currently viewing the competitive tablet landscape?" If you want to see the whole transcript, including topics such as iPad cannibalization of Mac sales, the battle with Android phones and tablets, and the supply and demand of iPhones and iPads, see Macworld.

If you look at what's shipping today, there's not much out there, as you know. Generally speaking, there's two kind of groups that are on the market today. The ones that are using Windows-based operating system are generally fairly big and heavy and expensive, they have very weak battery life, they require a keyboard or a stylus as an input device. And from our point of view and what we've seen, customers are frankly not interested in them.

Then you have the Android tablets, and the variety that are out shipping today, the operating system wasn't really designed for a tablet, and Google has said this. This is not just an Apple view by any means. And so you wind up having a size of tablet that is less than what we believe is reasonable or even one that would provide what we feel is a “real tablet experience.” So basically you wind up with a scaled-up smartphone, which is a bizarre product, in our view.

So those are the two that are shipping today, and frankly speaking, it's hard for me to understand, if somebody does a side-by-side with an iPad, I think some enormous percentage of people are going to select an iPad there. Those are not tablets that we have any concern on.

The next-generation Android tablets, which are primarily what you mentioned in terms of CES, there's nothing shipping yet, and so I don't know. Generally they lack performance specs, they lack prices, they lack timing, so today they're vapor. We'll assess them as they come out, however, we're not sitting still. And we have a huge first-mover advantage. And we have an incredible user experience, from iTunes to the App Store, and an enormous number of apps, and a huge ecosystem. And so we're very, very confident with entering into a fight with anyone.

In short, Apple is very confident that the competition, whether it is Microsoft or Google (RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook apparently doesn't even warrant a mention), will not be able to match the iPad. Both Redmond and Mountain View currently don't offer anything worth writing home about, at least according to Cupertino. If that changes, Apple says it will react accordingly, but either way, it will continue pushing its products to customers ranging from consumers to enterprises.


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