A tablet war of words seems to have broken out over the last few days between Apple and Microsoft. Apple and Google and Amazon have occasionally traded barbs about their tablet devices, but now that Microsoft finally has an actual tablet available for sale – the Surface with Windows RT – Apple and Microsoft execs have exchanged a few choice words on the merits (or lack thereof) or their tablet offerings.
During Apple’s Q4 financial results call on Thursday afternoon, Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO) said that Surface tablets are a ‘fairly compromised, confusing product’ and that “You could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do all of those things very well.”
Yesterday Steven Sinofski, President of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live divisions, referred to the new iPad Mini as a ‘recreational tablet’. Here’s the mention, via Apple Insider:
“These are fantastic machines,” Sinfosky said of one of many reasonably-priced Windows 8 laptops shown at Microsoft’s event. “It’s $279. Here we are, talking about seven-inch recreational tablets for $329.”
I haven’t seen the laptop Sinofski is talking about, but I have to say I find it hard to believe that any $279 laptop is anything more than a complete piece of junk, probably comparable to some of the worst netbooks we used to see in the local Best Buy store.
I also think the word recreational is an interesting choice. Of course it’s meant to imply that the iPad Mini can’t be used to really get any serious stuff done on. For me, it also implies that it’s a tablet people might actually enjoy using – as they enjoy recreational activities. Let’s see if that’s something we’ll be able to say about Surface tablets once consumers start getting their hands on them. Oh, and as far as getting all that serious stuff done, lets keep in mind that the Surface with Windows RT is the one that supports zero legacy Windows apps, has a tiny number of apps available for it, and is already getting some reviews that indicate it’s far from easy to use.
Both sides, Apple and Microsoft, are dishing some dirt here – but I would’ve thought it’s more in Microsoft’s interest to keep out of this sort of trash talking for now. They’re already arriving 2.5 years late to the tablet space, they’re a non-entity in the smartphone arena, and have spent years completely missing the boat in mobile in general. It’s a little bit like a 3rd string bench warmer trying to trash talk a long established star player.