Apple CEO Tim Cook On Cheap iPad Knockoffs: “You Hate It”

While most of Tim Cook’s comments today were characteristically measured, the Apple CEO saved his choicest words for iPad competitors such as the Kindle Fire.


Apple CEO Tim Cook made a rare appearance today at Goldman Sachs’ technology and Internet conference. During the presentation, Cook spoke on everything from supplier working conditions to the demise of the PC industry.

While most of Cook’s comments were characteristically measured–much like Apple’s earnings calls, Cook began the chat with a warning about forward-looking statements–the Apple head saved his choicest words for iPad competitors such as the Kindle Fire, which is said to be one of the best-selling tablets (far) behind the iPad.

When asked whether less expensive devices might cut into the iPad’s market share, Cook all but laughed off the competition. “Price is rarely the most important thing,” he said. “A cheap product might sell some units … [Consumers] feel great when they pay from their wallet. And then they get it home and use it, and the joy is gone.”

“The joy is gone every day they use it–until they’re not using it anymore!” Cook said, his voice rising high. “You don’t keep remembering, ‘Oh, I got a deal.’ Because you hate it!”

With roughly 55 million iPads sold, Apple is the undisputed leader in the tablet market, and Cook made it clear he intends to keep second- and third-placers far behind in the rankings. While Cook acknowledged that Amazon is likely to sell a lot of Kindle Fires with such a low price point, he echoed comments made previously that consumers do not want a “limited-function” device. Even in emerging markets, Cook argued, “[People] are not looking for the cheap version of the best product–they’re looking for the best product.”

Cook also had strong words for the PC industry, saying that he expects the tablet market is not only cannibalizing sales of PCs (and Macs) but that iPads will one day eclipse the PC market. “I love the Mac, and it’s still growing, but I strongly believe that the tablet market will surpass the unit sales of the PC market,” he said. If what platforms developers are working on is any indication of where the market is headed, Cook added, then the PC industry is falling far behind the mobile market.


“If you had a meeting today in this hotel, and we invited everybody that’s working on the coolest PC apps to come to the meeting, you might not find anybody in the meeting!” he said. “But if you did the same thing for iOS, or that other operating system, you couldn’t fit everybody in this hotel. You’d have somebody cover every square inch here. That’s where the innovation is.”

Of course, with the decline of the PC industry comes decline of Mac sales.

“I think that iPad has cannibalized some Mac sales,” he said, before saying that it’s affected sales more for Windows-based PCs. “We’d prefer to do it rather than have someone else do it. We never want to hold back our teams from building the absolute greatest thing even it takes some sales from another product area.”

[Image: Flickr user Andyi]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.