Cook was likely referring to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab when he said “the variety that are out shipping today, the operating system wasn’t really designed for a tablet.” Google has said this itself, Cook noted. “And so basically, you wind up with kind of a scaled-up smartphone, which is a bizarre product in our view.”
OK, fair point. The Galaxy Tab’s biggest weakness is its lack of third-party apps optimized for the larger screen. Without apps like Flipboard, Pulse or Twitter for iPad, Android 2.2 tablets feel like blown up smartphones. (At least the Galaxy Tab comes with several of Samsung’s own tablet apps.)
But what about the future of Android tablets? Once Google releases Android 3.0, with its apps and interface optimized for big screens, a wave of tablets are sure to follow, starting with Motorola’s Xoom. Cook’s best defense here was to act like this isn’t going to happen.
“The next-generation Android tablets, which are primarily what you mentioned in terms of the CES, there’s nothing shipping yet, and so I don’t know,” Cook said. “Generally, they lack performance specs, they lack prices, they lack timing. And so today, they’re vapor.”
I’m not sure there’s anything else Apple could have said — the muted presence of Android 3.0 at CES was a letdown, and so was the lack of launch details on upcoming tablets — but vapor isn’t the right word for products that we know are coming.
For now, Apple can smugly point out that it’s got the only tablet-optimized operating system on the market, but that won’t last forever. Eventually, the company will have to diss Android tablets solely based on the iPad’s relative virtues.
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