Opinion: Tim Cook’s unimaginative jabs at Android are just damage control

September 19, 2013
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tim cook apple ceo Deerkoski

I set out to read BusinessWeek’s new interview with Apple’s top executives hoping for some provocative, thought-inducing statements. Instead, CEO Tim Cook, seconded by design boss Jony Ive and software chief Craig Federighi, served up a reheated soup of passive-aggressive jabs, truisms, and hollow arguments.

For what it’s worth, I understand that it’s a CEO’s duty to present facts in a way that allows the company to save face, no matter how harsh the reality is. I won’t fault Mr. Cook for saying that he doesn’t really lose sleep over the 80 percent global market share of Android or the $200 billion that has evaporated off Apple’s market cap since it debuted the iPhone 5. I just wish Tim Cook would find some fresh arguments to support his optimism for Apple, preferably some that are anchored in reality.

It’s getting a bit tiring to hear that people buy devices to keep them in drawers or that the market can be divided into Apple and “junk”. Above all, it’s getting old to hear about fragmentation and how it cripples Android:

In Cook’s view, the incompatibilities between various Android versions make each an entirely different species. The Android operating systems are “not the latest ones by the time people buy,” he says. A recent survey of smartphones sold by AT&T showed 25 Android handsets; six did not have the latest operating system. “And so by the time they exit, they’re using an operating system that’s three or four years old. That would be like me right now having in my pocket iOS 3. I can’t imagine it.”

It doesn’t matter that most users don’t even know the version of Android on their device, never mind the predominant version in the market at a given moment. Or that most are perfectly satisfied with their device even if it doesn’t run the latest version of Android.

It doesn’t matter that Play Services, the framework that Google’s increasingly using to roll out new features to its operating system is present and updated on 98 percent of all Android devices. Never mind that app developers repeatedly debunked the myth of unbearable fragmentation.

Forget that Android runs on thousands of devices of all types, from 1.6-inch smartwatches to 21-inch All-in-One PCs. For Apple, that’s not versatility and diversity, it’s a weakness.

It probably doesn’t even matter that fragmentation has found a way inside Apple’s well-groomed walled garden.

All that matters is that Mr. Cook has a big, nasty boogeyman to scare off Apple users looking to the green grass on the other side. And that, at the end of the day, those users can buy an iPhone 5c, a “great phone” that Apple “figured out a way to sell at a lower cost”.

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