Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn't got his hands on a Microsoft Surface yet – which, frankly, would have been difficult, since it was formally announced just this Thursday – but he already doesn't like it.
"I haven't personally played with the Surface yet," Cook said during a conference call with reporters and analysts after Apple reported the financial results of its fourth fiscal quarter on Thursday, "but what we're reading about it is that it's a fairly compromised, confusing product."
Cook then proceeded to give Ballmer & Co. a bit of advice on product design. "I think one of the toughest things you do with deciding which product [to create] is to make hard trade-offs and decide what a product should be," he said, "and we've really done that with the iPad, and so the user experience is absolutely incredible."
Many of Apple's offerings strike Cook as being "incredible," as well as "amazing," "beautiful," "fabulous," "jaw-dropping," "fantastic," and more, as a YouTube video distillation of his and chief marketeer Phil Schiller's exuberant praise for Cupertinian kit during Wednesday's rollouts of the iPad mini, skinny iMacs, Retina-Display MacBook Pro, and Mac mini amply demonstrates.
During the Thursday conference call, Cook pooh-poohed what he characterised as the Surface's attempt to be all things to all men. "I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats," he said, "but I don't think it would do all of those things very well."
He's not worried about losing sales to the Surface – or, for that matter, to other tablets. "I think people, when they look at the iPad versus competitive offerings," he said, "are going to conclude they really want an iPad. And I think people have done that to date, and I think they'll continue to do that."
For its part, Microsoft has had to eat its words after dissing Apple products in the past – witness CEO Steve Ballmer's famous laughing dismissal of the iPhone: "Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said, 'That is the most expensive phone in the world!'"
Ballmer laughed first, but Apple laughed last. It will be interesting to see who's laughing a year from now, after tablets based on Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT – Microsoft's Surface and others – have spent some time in the marketplace. ®