Tim Cook not convinced about tablet, notebook convergence


— 5:12 PM on April 25, 2012

With Windows 8 putting so much emphasis on touch input, it's almost a given that touch screens will start to permeate the PC market after the OS's release later this year. We've already heard a fair amount of buzz about touch-enabled ultrabooks, in fact.

What does Apple CEO Tim Cook think about all this?

Well, he doesn't sound convinced it's such a good idea. Here's what Cook told an analyst during yesterday's earnings conference call, according to SeekingAlpha's transcript:

I think . . . anything can be forced to converge. But the problem is that products are about trade-offs, and you begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn't please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.

Cook launched into a brief tangent about the iPad's popularity and growth potential before adding:

Now having said that, I also believe that there is a very good market for the MacBook Air, and we continue to innovate in that product. And -- but I do think that it appeals to somewhat -- someone that has a little bit different requirements. And you wouldn't want to put these things together because you wind up compromising in both and not pleasing either user. Some people will prefer to own both, and that's great, too. But I think to make the compromises of convergence, so -- we're not going to that party. Others might. Others might from a defensive point of view, particularly. But we're going to play in both.

A couple of years back, Steve Jobs mentioned that, according to Apple's internal usability testing, sticking a touch screen on a laptop "doesn't work." He explained, "Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical. It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. it doesn't work, it's ergonomically terrible."

Cook's reasoning is a little different, but it comes down to the same thing: you're probably not going to see a touch-enabled MacBook anytime soon. The fact that Cook slams the whole notion of convergence probably means iOS and OS X aren't headed on a collision course, either. Microsoft may end up alone in that experiment.

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