After iPad Sales Dip, Apple CEO Tim Cook Trash Talks Tablet Market


Apple CEO Tim Cook usually bats away Wall Street analysts' attempts to get him to talk about the competition, but in the company's second-quarter earnings call Tuesday, he made a rare exception.

Apple sold 14.6 million iPads during the quarter, while Wall Street analysts were expecting it to sell around 18 million iPads. In a Q&A with analysts, Cook was asked whether some of the decline was due to competition from other tablet vendors.

Cook responded by citing new data from Chitika, an online advertising network, which shows iPad accounting for 84.3 percent of Web traffic from tablets in the U.S. and Canada in June.

"If there are other tablets selling, I don't know what they're being used for," Cook said.

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Cook could've taken the opportunity to sling some mud at Microsoft for its $900 million write-down for its Surface RT tablet, announced last week in its fourth-quarter earnings.

Cook also could have raised questions about how well Windows 8 and Android tablets are selling.

But generally speaking, that's not how Apple executives roll.

The exception has been Phil Schiller, Apple's head of marketing, who trash-talked Google and Samsung in a March interview with The Wall Street Journal.

It's too early to call this a trend, but with Apple shares down more than 20 percent this year to date, and Android usage growing, it wouldn't be surprising to see more of this talk from Apple executives.

As for the iPad's first year-over-year sales decline since its debut in 2010, Cook said there's a logical explanation.

Apple's iPad sales dropped by 2.4 million units during the quarter, but Cook said 80 percent of this figure was due to channel inventory shifts. When these are taken into account, iPads sales dipped only 3 percent, he said.

The iPad is doing well in the U.S. education market, and Apple landed a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District in June that will include deployment of 660,000 iPads, Cook said.

"We hit within the midpoint of the range we expected on iPad unit sales. It was not a surprise to us," Cook said on the call.

Michael Oh, president and founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple reseller, agrees with Cook's assessment of the tablet market.

"I have definitely seen a larger number of people with Samsung phones -- so Android isn't losing the entire war. It's just not winning the tablet battle in any way that I can see," Oh told CRN.

PUBLISHED JULY 25, 2013