Apple COO Says No to Apple Netbook, Denigrates Existing Models

Apple COO Tim Cook
Apple COO Tim Cook

Apple COO Tim Cook told analysts Wednesday that while his company was watching the netbook space, there were no plans for an Apple entry into this space any time soon. He also denigrated the quality of both the hardware and the software of existing netbook models, and predicted that customers won't be satisfied with what is currently available.

The comments came during Apple's quarterly conference call with analysts when one analyst asked CFO Peter Oppenheimer and Mr. Cook what they thought of the netbook space, which saw enormous growth during the December quarter for PC companies such as Acer.

"We're watching that space," said Mr. Cook. "Right now from our point of view, the products in there are principally based on hardware that's much less powerful than we think customers want, software technology that is not good, cramped keyboards, small displays, etc."

"We don't think that people are going to be pleased with those type of products," he concluded, but he then hedged with a, "but we'll see. We are watching the space. About 3% of the PC industry last year was in this netbook kind of category. So it's a category we watch."

To add some further fuel to eventual Apple netbook speculation, Mr. Cook added, "We've got some ideas here, [but] right now we think the products there are inferior and will not provide an experience to customers that they're happy with."

Apple has long resisted the low end of the market, with desktop offerings like the Mac mini being the rare exception -- and the Mac mini has remained a niche Mac within Apple's niche space in the computing business.

On the laptop side, Apple's least expensive MacBook is the US$999 previous generation MacBook, with the "unibody" MacBook starting at $1,299.

Netbooks typically retail under $500, with many models being in the $300 range. They typically have very small form factors, including small screens and keyboards, and sometimes limited functionality (browsing, e-mail, document writing), which are the kinds of limitations Mr. Cook asserts will leave users less than satisfied in the long run.