Tim Cook not convinced about tablet, notebook convergence

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.

Comments closed
    • cygnus1
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]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.[/quote<] Or.... MS is beating them to the punch on the OS and so they're playing MS's old game and downplaying what the competition is doing before them...

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 8 years ago

    It looks like the “convergence” products, at least as far as things like the Transformers go, are good because they can snap together or apart and be EITHER. I didn’t get the impression that they were trying to run with laptops with touchscreens, which have always been solutions without problems. That seems like what Cook thinks they’re talking about.

    I think the next awesome thing will be the Asus getup (or something like it) that hooks a phone into a tablet and then can hook the tablet into the keyboard. Seems that would make sync really easy/all your data would be the same on all your “devices” cuz it would always really just be coming from the phone.

    • ludi
    • 8 years ago

    Thus, the critical difference between a Jobs-led Apple and a Cook-led Apple:

    Jobs-led Apple: “You know, we’re the company that developed the Macbook Air. If we can take that same thin, light-weight form-factor and make it into a convertible tablet with a UI design that is adapted to seamlessly accept both touchscreen and mouse input concurrently, so that the user can operate it in laptop mode without ever feeling like their input to the device is being hindered, we’ll have another $100bn in the bank by this time next year. Get the R&D team going, I want a prototype by July.”

    Cook-led Apple: “A tablet doesn’t want to be vertical.”

    Uh-oh.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    This reminds me of Acer’s dual-screen Iconia product.

    [url<]http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20023718-1.html[/url<] When I first saw the concept I kinda scoffed at the idea of typing with the lower touch screen display. I guess if there ever was a product that comes close to what Apple is pondering, this Acer is it. But will it work? I dunno. With something that's sitting on your desk I find it awkward to use my fingers to drag things on the top screen. Is it more convenient and less tiresome than simply using the mouse's scroll wheel or keyboard? Typing on the screen is also crazy when you've got a full-sized keyboard. And as for games, well, touch screen may work for tablets, but computers with keyboards and mice will probably make you look silly touching the screen here and there. Of course, the whole concept is still up in the air. Even if it fails to take off on our watch, it could well be what's considered normal/standard a few generations down the road.

    • tfp
    • 8 years ago

    Funny statement, a number of people said that about the iPhone and the iPad as well. I mean is there even a market for those?!?!

    Steve Jobs statement about it is more reasonable a laptop with a touch screen and all but Cook seems like he is going out of his way to be out spoken, bold, and whatever. His RDF is just not very strong, I hope he doesn’t end up putting his foot in his mouth.

    • riviera74
    • 8 years ago

    Tim Cook is right. Why doesn’t Steve Ballmer understand this? A PC is NOT a tablet. Never was, never will be.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 8 years ago

      Ballmer is certifiably insane. Have you seen the monkey boy video?

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 8 years ago

    Reminds me of a bad purchase I made. The newer Dyson model, the Dyson Ball, was on sale on Amazon with a free mini-unit included. Now, the final price still was more than their older model, but hey, their new model PLUS the mini one, win-win. Big mistake.

    Dyson decided to design their newest model to NEED the mini-unit. It has no height adjustment (i have hardwood floors) and the corner/ceiling wand requires you to pull the entire handle and main shaft out (its like 2.5ft long) to be able to use it. Due to the shape/design the wand is extremely awkward and basically terrible for most tasks. Both of these differences make the ball vastly inferior to their older model…and more importantly, add “value” to the mini-unit that was “included” with the sale. Problem is, the mini-unit has bad suction and of course the battery on it has terrible life…. Had I not gotten both for only a small premium over the other I’d have been much more raged, anyways…

    With that in mind, I take statement like Tim Cook’s here as purposely designing products such that they will be neutered in some way, maybe even to be inferior to previous models, so that you will be encouraged to buy both products.

    The idea of an all-in-one is sacrilegious to a company.

    • Madman
    • 8 years ago

    Hard to say if I agree or not.

    Windows 8 UI is awful, I guess, we can agree on that. But… Transformer, high DPI ultrabooks might be a strange spot where I would choose it over regular ultrabook. And I’m definitely not buying a tablet.

    The thing is, that tablet is useless, e-penis, gadget. You can’t do any work with it. It’s only purpose is to show others that you’re cool. It ends right there.

    On the other hand, laptops are too clumsy to, say, watch a DVD while in bed. If I could rotate the screen to the other side, and launch a touch screen player to watch it while getting rid of the keyboard and touchpad, and retaining minimal input, that would be great.

    Weight is not an issue, that extra horizontal keyboard is. But only for a limited amount of time when I don’t do anything serious.

    Then again, fingerprints all over the screen are fugly. This alone can be a deal breaker, not for everyone, but I hate when image is distorted because of fat and dirt.

    But I have to catch most people to not touch the screen when showing me something on the monitor, so this is probably not an issue for most people. They never seem to care about those pesky reflections and distortions.

      • sweatshopking
      • 8 years ago

      Yeah in people touching the screen! Drives me crazy! And no, we can’t agree win 8 is ugly. i think it’s the nicest looking is out there

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        He never said Win8 is ugly.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          He said the UI was awful, but I guess you’re right

            • Madman
            • 8 years ago

            Yep, I didn’t say it was ugly. It’s not. It’s not super pretty IMHO, but it’s minimalistic, and I like that, so it’s ok. But it’s awful for mouse+keyboard+multi-monitor+multi-mpix screens.

    • Ball_Attire
    • 8 years ago

    Tim cook can cook me anything!

    • Anarchist
    • 8 years ago

    tablet is for people who don’t need computer.

      • esterhasz
      • 8 years ago

      computer is for tablets who don’t need… [i<]people[/i<]

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        People are for computers who serve them on tablets.

    • jjj
    • 8 years ago

    Why does the press feel the need to assume things? He was talking about convertible tablets,about the hardware,the device.NOT about the software and NOT about touch or no touch on laptops.
    You have 2 very different devices both in price and form factor (size and weight) and that’s what is problematic.
    Not that it matters much since Apple seems to think that the traditional PC has no future and it’s unlikely that they’ll invest much time and effort in the segment.

      • Airmantharp
      • 8 years ago

      For the workloads that almost all desktop users fit into, the iMac is a great convergence of form and function; put the plenty-speedy guts of a desktop-replacement portable in a vertical chassis with a nice, large screen, and you have a winner.

      I think that many OEMs (Dell, HP, etc.) will do well to copy the form factor while competing on price at all performance points except higher-end gaming systems and workstations. And even as the PC gaming market grows in numbers, it’s market share shrinks, though the options available to DIY’ers have never been better!

    • NeelyCam
    • 8 years ago

    A tablet is a tradeoff – remove a keyboard to save some size/weight..

      • rrr
      • 8 years ago

      And save on some ergonomics too in the process…

        • Krogoth
        • 8 years ago

        How is a tablet more ergonomic than an keyboard/mouse setup?

        You are just shifting RSI to a different muscle group.

          • rrr
          • 8 years ago

          Sarcasm not detected, I suppose.

    • superjawes
    • 8 years ago

    I feel like he’s thinking he’s missing the possible utility of using a touch screen when you need it, and not necessarily reverting all the way back to a tablet with an awkward keyboard attachment. Like he never considered the utility of reaching out and touch adjusting something when it feels natural.

    And…like other people mentioned…swivel screens that can be laptops OR bulkier tablets.

      • xeridea
      • 8 years ago

      But to not hinder usability, you need to be in either touch or desktop mode. Then to get the “natural” touch you speak of, you must switch to other mode, and get to what you was doing, which is completely against what you was trying to accomplish in the first place.

        • superjawes
        • 8 years ago

        Why does it have to be one or the other? I’ve used a tablet loaded with XP that could handle both at once and never had a problem. And that’s the point of my post. If you can do both at the same time, that opens up some utility in the right situations.

          • khands
          • 8 years ago

          I guess the real question is “are the appropriate situations for this type of device encounter by enough people to warrant developing it?”

    • chuckula
    • 8 years ago

    Or.. to paraphrase Lonely Island… My PC is not a phone! Duh!!

    I think that should be tattooed on Ballmer’s forehead right before they fire him.

    • Frith
    • 8 years ago

    He’s just saying what everyone already knows. Everyone bar the people at Microsoft.

    Still, Windows 8 should make an entertaining train wreck.

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    This site was a lot more fun when Apple was a joke and Macolytes were berated for sport. Now Apple is mainstream legit and PC users don’t have much to brag about anymore.

    /sigh

      • LocalCitizen
      • 8 years ago

      yes you do…
      [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/22842[/url<] [quote<]V. Something is deeply broken in OS X memory management (Lion performance problems part 3) [/quote<] with hardware (internals) being equal, the diff exists in software. OS X is good in usability, but lacking in the kernal and anti-virus oh, PC is still way better for games

        • ImSpartacus
        • 8 years ago

        Windows is only better for gaming because of compatibility. People used to say that OSX would never get applications half as good as the ones on Windows. That has more or less leveled out.

        With innovative companies like Valve campaigning for crossplatform play, I expect the current Grand Canyon between OSX gaming and Windows gaming to shrink slowly and surely.

        But until then, bootcamp continues to work flawlessly.

          • sweatshopking
          • 8 years ago

          Yep, the most important part. Not only that, but OSX had serious OpenGL driver issues. I remember reading that valve had to pretty much redo them for apple. If that’s the kind of underlying System, its not reassuring. Nm the Kaspersky comment that apple is 10 years behind Microsoft in security yesterday.

        • Beelzebubba9
        • 8 years ago

        I think you mean ‘kernel’.

        And I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

      • lilbuddhaman
      • 8 years ago

      If you are any semblance of a PC gamer that statement is completely invalid.

      edit: Minused for truth apparently. I guess angry birds and old source games = gaming to the macfans.

      • Jigar
      • 8 years ago

      Apple is still a joke.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Only if you aren’t interested in a ultra-high dpi screen on something you make phone calls with.

      • reever
      • 8 years ago

      >Now Apple is mainstream legit and PC users don’t have much to brag about anymore.

      This doesn’t make any sense.

      • blastdoor
      • 8 years ago

      It must be tough for the owners of sites like this to deal with Apple. If they want to keep their shrinking readership of aging PC DIYers happy, then they have to avoid Apple coverage — certainly not favorable Apple coverage, anyway. Yet if they want to grow readership/revenue, then they need to avoid alienating the other 90% of the world that doesn’t reflexively hate Apple.

      Glad it’s not my problem.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]"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."[/quote<] It's a great quote to reference when anyone suggests adding a touch screen to anything other then a iPad, but upon closer inspection you see it's quite frivolous. Like a laptop with a swiveling screen that functions like a tablet and a normal laptop with a keyboard and input device other then the screen. Jobs wasn't immune to spinning half truths in order to make a product seem better. [quote<]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.[/quote<] 'Cause that would overlap with their iPads and they really don't want consumers recognizing that a netbook with a touchscreen is superior in every way, shape, and form to a iPad. I believe the context the news quotes are used in is a little bit different then their actual meaning.

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      I saw a picture of a Windows 8 laptop where the screen turned around folded over, basically allowing it to be a laptop or a tablet. That’s a neat idea and that’s where the concept works.

      Now looking at Windows 8 on my desktop, let’s say I had a touch screen, a mouse and a keyboard. Well now the touch screen becomes something I would use mainly just to browse the Start Screen or occasionally bring up one of those side bar things that Windows 8 has. Other than that, it would be mouse and keyboard as usual. So the fatigue problem isn’t really a problem, because you only bring your hand to the screen occasionally.

        • sweatshopking
        • 8 years ago

        It was the Lenovo yoga, and you’re right about the second point.

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Yup, rotating screens have been on laptops for more then a decade. They were originally called tablets before the new term of what a tablet is took hold. Which is just a touchscreen with a locked down minimalistic OS.

        If you match a swivel screen with a netbook you essentially have an extremely beefed up tablet. Or if you do it on a ultrabook you have a really big tablet. The things Apple doesn’t want you to know and for some reason device manufacturers are too stupid to do.

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    He kinda missed that with a convertible notebook you can get something that looks like a thick tablet. He also forgets that since it’s a PC you can load up any software you want which means you could get something that works with touch while in tablet mode.

    99% of the time I prefer a laptop….but once in a while it would be nice to be able to fold my screen over to watch something(for example watching a show while using an elliptical, just place the convertible on the little book ledge).

      • burntham77
      • 8 years ago

      I am actually considering replacing my Android tablet with that very laptop you are talking about when it becomes available. A tablet on the go and a laptop when I go home, all in one machine… that’s what I want.

        • khands
        • 8 years ago

        A Windows 8 Transformer Infinity.

          • cygnus1
          • 8 years ago

          This is exactly what I want. Something well optimized for media consumption that can also pull light duty for actual work.

    • blitzy
    • 8 years ago

    “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.”

    yeap, pretty much why tablets are clunky. If youre going to put your tablet flat on a desk, you might as well be using a laptop anyway.

    • Alexko
    • 8 years ago

    It seems Tim Cook can’t quite fill his predecessor’s shoes. He’s using words like “think”, “believe” and “probably”.

    That’s not what he’s supposed to do. You’re not supposed to express doubt or uncertainty when you’re leading a cult, you’re supposed to lay down absolute truth, and incite believers to follow.

      • Saber Cherry
      • 8 years ago

      That made me smile.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 8 years ago

      Tim Cook: “touch screens on notebooks is not magical”

      • Decelerate
      • 8 years ago

      For as much as I like Cook, he’s an optimizer, not a dreamer.
      -Jobs/Ives are dreamers (think Kirk).
      -Cook is an optimizer (think Spock).
      -Wozniak/Lazaridis are builders (think Scotty).

      To each their role, and the first realization is knowing what you are, and [b<]especially what you are not[/b<]. Now I fear that Apple will slowly become the next General Electric.

        • TravelMug
        • 8 years ago

        [quote<]Now I fear that Apple will slowly become the next General Electric.[/quote<] Coming out shortly with "youPAD" by Jack Donaghy.

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