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Apple CEO Likens Surface To Car That Flies, Floats 377

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ceos-are-so-cute-when-they-fight dept.
theodp writes "Conceding that he hadn't actually played with one, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Wall Street that Microsoft's Surface tablet is 'a fairly compromised, confusing product' in the company's 4Q earnings call. Cook joked, 'I supposed you could design a car that flies and floats, but it wouldn't do those things very well.' In Apple's 2Q earnings call, Cook also mocked the idea of touch on a laptop or desktop, quipping, 'You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going be pleasing to the user.' Cook added, 'We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical.' So, is Cook just pulling a page from Steve Jobs' people-don't-read-anymore playbook, or is he unaware that children happily used vertical touch screens forty years ago on UIUC's PLATO System (more PLATO History)?"
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Apple CEO Likens Surface To Car That Flies, Floats

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  • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@3.1415926yahoo.com minus pi> on Friday October 26, 2012 @08:19AM (#41776207)

    I think MS is hedging on their install base and businesses.
    By getting them all on this Walled Garden they are thinking they will become the Apple of the business world; of course this does not take into account that if businesses will have to retain their staff, why would they stick to MS?

  • PLATO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DingerX (847589) on Friday October 26, 2012 @08:21AM (#41776243) Journal
    I happily used PLATO thirty years ago. The thing had a touch screen, but very few of the programs used it. Those that did I recall as being made for kids for whom it was assumed the keyboard-screen relationship would be too complex. Outside of those programs, touch screens just didn't make sense for desktop work. They still don't.
  • Why vertical? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MadCow42 (243108) on Friday October 26, 2012 @08:51AM (#41776455) Homepage

    "Touch screens don't want to be vertical"...

    So, you're saying that a desktop HAS to be vertical? What happened to thinking out of the box? Disappointing, Tim!~

    I can fully imagine a 20-24" touch screen lying on my desktop, facing up (maybe angled 10-15 degrees towards me), where my keyboard is right now. That'd be a pretty natural interface. If it had finger touch, plus a more accurate stylus for finer work, it'd be very useful.

    MadCow.

  • Materials (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:04AM (#41776623)
    Microsoft does have to be congratulated on a better choice of materials than Apple. Using a magnesium alloy chassis with vapor deposited coating makes a lot of sense. It is lighter than aluminum and the chipping problem on the iPhone 5 should not happen. Having seen the demos, I might even buy one, and I am a serial Microsoft avoider. It looks as if it has some real advantages over the Asus Transformer line, and avoids most of the bad features of the iPad.
  • Re:DOA.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:08AM (#41776689)

    Back in the late 80's, there was some competition where people had to set up a new PC vs a new Mac. Apple and Microsoft sent representatives.

    Apple sent a 7 year old.

    It became a benchmark of usability and was used in advertisements e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmjvgOAhC_4 [youtube.com]

    (Does anyone have info on the contest? it was pre-Internet boom... I can't find a reference for it.)

  • Re:Nice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:12AM (#41776723)

    My thought exactly.

    Competitor bashes Microsoft product. Film at 11.

    What exactly is news worthy about this?

    Geeks/nerds are not generally considered to be terribly 'macho', at least not when compared to testicle-thinking, grunting and chest beating high-school jocks, but geeks do label some things as 'women's work' and usability research has to be near the top of that list. To be fair to Apple (unpopular as that may be at the moment) they do conduct A LOT of usability research and it has gotten them quite far in terms of product design, development and sales figures so I'm betting that Tim Cook isn't just venting hot air when he talks about what does and does not work when it comes to tablets, laptops and fusions of the two. I'll admit that I'd really like to see some sort of fusion device. There are times I wish I could comfortably do things like rotate my laptop through 90 degrees to read PDF's in landscape mode or sketch a diagram by hand with a stylus while taking notes. Typing notes is usually way more efficient but occasionally one wants to be able to sketch by hand because it's way faster. At other times though find myself wishing that iPad had an OS and apps that allows me to efficiently do sophisticated word-processing/graphics/programming work etc. Neither the iPad nor the Android tablets do that very well but from what I have seen so far Windows 8 tablets aren't terribly impressive either. In a perfect universe I'd like to see some totally new and innovative type of fusion device that makes way more radical changes that Windows 8 does and that would make both laptops and tablets obsolete (Hey... one can hope...)

  • by rjejr (921275) on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:23AM (#41776845)
    Apple is currently working on a 10" tablet that runs on MacOS with a touch screen overlay.
  • Re:DOA.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday October 26, 2012 @09:40AM (#41777079)

    Sounds almost as DOA as a 7" tablet to me

    Much as I am loathe to agree with Steve Jobs, I have to agree with him on that. To me personally, I don't see much use for a tablet that's less than 10". Smaller than that, and I can just use my smartphone instead. I want something big enough to read magazines and comic books on, and 7" don't cut it.

  • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hazydave (96747) on Friday October 26, 2012 @11:39AM (#41778853)

    Nice to hear Cook pointing out the fact that vertical touchscreens really don't work. Not just in their testing -- this was a thing, pre-PC, in many of the 70s and 80s CAD workstations. There were touchscreens, light pens, and other "directly interacting with the monitor" input devices. They all failed. It wasn't expense (not in dedicated CAD, prices were so high, paying $1000+ for an interface device would have been lost in the noise), it wasn't functionality (they worked fine)... it was people. We don't like repetitive stress, but particularly on large motor functions. Reaching up, away from your normal comfortable seating position, to touch a large monitor -- just not something that's good for you.

    Of course, they wouldn't be Microsoft if they didn't entirely not learn from the past, and actually do it worse. Touch-with-finger screens are inherently a compromise. You wouldn't choose to smear greasy fingers over your viewing device if you could help it.... it's a compromise some are willing to make in order to have an easy to use pocket computer. On the desktop, we use off-screen, horizontally mounted control devices.

    But it's clear Microsoft didn't have any cognitive psychologists working on any part of the mess that is The-UI-Formerly-Known-As-Metro, either. This will make one hell of a cautionary tale, though -- hopefully we can stop trying these same kind of stupid ideas on mainstream Linux distros...

  • Re:DOA.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Strudelkugel (594414) on Friday October 26, 2012 @01:01PM (#41779963)

    Still, Apple spreading FUD on Microsoft instead of the other way around makes me wanna think Microsoft is cool. Probably not a good strategy on Apple's part.

    Cook is becoming the new Ballmer. I plan to buy an x86 Surface when it is available. I will keep the iPad 1 that I have, but don't plan to buy another one. The Surface, if executed properly by Microsoft will be the killer hardware / software combination especially when linked with SkyDrive.

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