Apple CEO Tim Cook: PC app innovation is dead, killed by the iPad

By Preston Gralla

Software innovation on PCs is dead, killed by the iPad and Android, Apple CEO Tim Cook claims. He adds that tablets will outsell PCs and Macs, although didn't give a date for when that will happen.

Cook made his remarks to the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference in San Francisco yesterday. According to GeekWire, here's what he had to say:

"If we had a meeting today in this hotel and we invited everybody that was working on the coolest PC apps to come to the meeting, you might not find anyone in the meeting. But, if you did that same thing for iOS or that other operating system...you couldn't get everybody in this hotel. You’d have someone covering every square inch here...And that's where the innovation is"

When he refers to "that other operating system," he's talking about Android, not Windows.

Later in the talk he added:

"I solidly believe that the tablet market will surpass the unit sales of the PC market, and it is just a matter of the rate and speed and time that that happens."

He's referring to PCs generically, and includes Macs as well as Windows-based PCs. Cook also says that he believes that the iPad has cannibalized sales of the Mac, but that it has cannibalized even more from Windows computers.

Cook is clearly right that there's far more innovation these days in developing for mobile devices (smartphones as well as tablets) than for PCs. But he neglects to mention another major area of software innovation that has cut into software development for PCs --- Web-based services and the cloud. Many of these services tie into mobile, but also are used for traditional PCs and Macs.

It's not only tablets and smartphones that have slowed the pace of software development for PC. Lack of demand played a big part as well. There was a time, decades ago, when there was actual competition in the word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software market, as well as in other areas. But when Microsoft sewed up the market with Office, there was simply no demand for alternatives.

Beyond that, the PC itself is a mature piece of electronics, and has been around for so long that software has been developed for its most important uses. And PCs' capabilities are more limited than those of mobile devices, because PCs lack sensors, GPSes, and so on.

So Cook is clearly right that mobile is where innovation is, and that PC innovation has slackened. But the iPad by itself didn't cause that on its own.

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