The revolution begins: Tablets going to overtake PCs, says Apple boss
TABLET computers will soon be more popular than laptops and desktops, Apple's chief executive has said.
Tim Cook, speaking at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, said that Apple's iPad "is on a trajectory that is off the charts".
He said: "From the first day it shipped, we thought that the tablet market would become larger than the PC market and it was just a matter of the time it took for that to occur. I feel that stronger today than I did then."
Apple has sold 55 million iPads and is expected to launch a new version of the device in the first week of March. Apple's competitors have rushed to launch their own tablets since the original iPad was launched in 2010 but none has sold as well as the iPad.
Cook was dismissive of Google's Android tablets as a competitor for the iPad. "We wound up with 170,000 apps and I'm not sure there is 100 yet on the other platform," he said.
He acknowledged that Amazon, which launched the Kindle Fire tablet in the US later last year, was "a different competitor". However, he implied that the Kindle Fire is a "limited function" tablet and said that was something that Apple's target audience did not want.
Apple is widely expected to announce its next iPad next month and it is thought that it will have an improved screen, with much higher resolution, as well as a faster processor.
Cook said the iPad's success came because of Apple's existing ecosystem. Consumers were familiar with the iOS interface from using the iPhone and there was a range of content available from the iTunes Store.
He said: "The iPad has stood on the shoulders of everything that came before it."
Cook has spoken at the annual Goldman Sachs Technology Conference several times in the past but this was his first appearance as chief executive. In a broad conversation, he also addressed criticism over the treatment of workers in the Chinese factories where Apple's products are made.
He said: "I would want everyone to know is that Apple takes working conditions very seriously, and we have for a very long time. Whether workers are in Europe or Asia or the United States, we care about every worker."
Explaining Apple's commitment to auditing suppliers to ensure that they conform to standards on working conditions, health and safety and other key criteria, Cook said that no company in the technology sector does as much as Apple.
"We are constantly auditing facilities going deep into the supply chain, looking for problems, finding problems and fixing problems," Cook said. "We report everything because we believe transparency is so very important in this area."
Earlier this week, Apple announced that it had asked the Fair Labor Association to inspect Foxconn factories in China, where some Apple products are made. The FLA will also inspect facilities run by other Apple suppliers.
Apple is rumoured to be planning a television set for launch later this year but Cook did not give any hint of what might be coming. Asked about Apple TV, the set-top box that streams content to a television, Cook said the company still considers it to be a hobby.
It would remain that way until Apple had "something that could go more main market", Cook said.