In a conference call with analysts after his company turned in yet another stellar financial report card Tuesday (April 24), Tim Cook, Apple Inc.'s CEO, was pressed to explain how the market for PCs could remain a separate, discreet market from for tablets. (In other words, how can Cook expect sales for its MacBook Air notebook PC to continue to grow at the same time iPad proliferation continues).
Cook said he strongly believes that the markets for these products will remain distinct and that Apple had no intention of kowtowing to the "compromises of convergence."
Cook argued that the MacBook Air and the iPad appealed to different users with different requirements. Convergence, Cook said, means tradeoffs and the possibility that the resulting product won't truly please either set of users.
"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user," Cook said.
IPad-mania continues at an unprecedented scale. Apple said it sold 11.8 million iPads in its fiscal second quarter, down 24 percent from the previous quarter but up 151 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. Cook told analysts that Apple has now sold more than 67 million iPads in the two-plus years since the initial iPad began shipping. To put that in perspective, he added, it took the company 24 years to sell that many Macs, five years to sell that many iPhones and three years to sell that many iPods.
Meanwhile, Mac sales continue to grow, albeit at a less eye-popping rate than its younger sibling. Apple reported selling 4 million Macs in the fiscal second quarter, up 7 percent from the same period a year ago. Cook said that Mac sales outgrew the overall PC market for the 24th straight quarter.
Citing forecast data from market research firms, Cook noted that the tablet market is expected to eclipse the PC market in terms of unit shipments in the next year years.
"I think even the more formal predictors outside of us are beginning to see these lines cross," Cook said. "And so I strongly believe that they will."
But Cook made it clear that Apple would continue to innovate in MacBook products. While others might push for convergence between the PC and the tablet, Apple is "not going to that party," Cook said.
Cook also noted that some users would continue to prefer to own both an iPad and a MacBook. "That's great, too," Cook said.
I'll bet it is.