John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple CEO: Microsoft’s Surface Is Probably Terrible

Microsoft’s new Surface tablet began shipping today, and while Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t yet used the device, he’s already given it a bad review.

Asked about Microsoft’s new flagship device during Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Cook dismissed it as addled.

“What we’re reading is that it’s a fairly compromised, confusing product,” Cook said. “One of the toughest things you do when making a product is to make hard tradeoffs. That’s what we’ve done with the iPad, and the resulting user experience is incredible.”

Microsoft didn’t quite do that with Surface, Cook implied, and the market will recognize that. “You could design a car that flies and floats, but I don’t think it would do either of those things very well. … People will look at the iPad and at competitive offerings, and I think they’ll conclude the iPad is the better choice.”

Harsh words for a long-time rival’s first tablet effort — particularly sight unseen. But really, what was he supposed to say? That said, it’s worth noting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took a similar view of the iPhone when it was first unveiled and still hasn’t lived it down. “$500 full-subsidized with a plan!” Ballmer quipped. “I said that is the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine.”

Five years later he’s still eating those words, which quickly became a monument to short-sighted criticisms of a transformative device. Which is not to say that Cook will someday be forced to eat his as well, just that remarks like these sometimes take on a life of their own.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik