he line between traditional PCs and tablets is beginning to blur, as evidenced by Microsoft's swipe-friendly Windows 8 interface, or Intel's recently unveiled "Letexo," an ultrabook-tablet hybrid with a detachable touchscreen. When asked about the emerging trend in consumer electronics during Tuesday's earnings phone call, Apple CEO Tim Cook offered one of his more memorable quips in the post-Jobs era, firing off a thinly-veiled jab at longtime rival Microsoft: "Anything can be forced to converge," he said. "You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user." Cook also decried unnecessary "tradeoffs" in the battle to create the perfect hybrid. Is the Apple boss right about the future of hybrid-tablets?
I hope Cook's wrong: The iPad is "terrific," sure, says Jared Newman at PC World, but tablet capabilities are still lacking in comparison to fully-realized desktop interfaces. What makes Cook's comments so worrisome is that if Apple "continues to gobble up more of the market, there's less room for a wide variety of phones, tablets, laptops, or hybrid devices from the competition." Other companies will struggle to launch anything other than low-budget Apple clones instead of experimenting with new ideas. "For the shrinking number of people who don't agree with Apple's viewpoint, that's discomforting."
"Apple's Tim Cook disses tablet-PC convergence; breaks my heart"
No one wants hybrids: "My guess is that the real reason Cook flat out rejects the idea of a tablet/laptop hybrid has more to do with Apple wanting to sell iPads and MacBooks," says Matt Peckham at TIME. Cook argues that consumers who "need both will just own both," which is sound reasoning, especially as both laptop and tablet prices continue to trend toward affordability. Besides, why would any company want to "cut sales by inventing a product no one's clamoring for anyway"?
"Is Apple CEO Tim Cook right? Are laptop-tablet hybrids dead in the water?"
Actually, Apple could build the perfect hybrid: "I do think Cook is right about tradeoffs," says Michael Humphrey at Forbes. With Windows 8, I don't want or need "two distinct OS experiences in one box." Still, "I hope his comments are not indicative of a blind spot," because Apple is "so close to the perfect hybrid." Think about it: The Macbook Air is just slightly heavier than the iPad — a touchscreen interface would be formidable. "I am no Apple fanboy," but if the Cupertino-based company delivered an "AirPad," I would definitely buy it.
"Too bad Tim Cook scoffs at tablet-laptop hybrids: Apple's so close"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- How to make homemade marshmallow Peeps
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
Subscribe to the Week