Apple CEO wonders what those other guys' tablets are used for

Tim Cook takes shot at rivals' tablets based on Web browsing stats

Apple CEO Tim Cook on Tuesday let loose another salvo at rival tablets, audaciously dismissing them as devices that no one uses.

"In terms of how other people are doing, I don't know," said Cook when asked whether the iPad's 14% sales plunge stemmed from an industry-wide trend. "What I can tell you is the most recent data I have gotten, which actually just came out, I believe, this morning, is that the iPad Web share data shows that through the quarter we accelerated further and ... now iPad accounts for 84% of the Web traffic from tablets.

"[That's] absolutely incredible, and so if there are lots of other tablets selling, I don't know what they're being used for because that's a pretty basic function, web browsing," Cook added.

Cook was alluding to numbers published earlier Tuesday by Chitika, an online advertising network that mines ad impression data for trends in operating system and browser usage.

According to Chitika, iPads accounted for 84.3% of all tablet-based traffic to its ads in the U.S. and Canada between June 15 and June 21. The nearest competitors, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Samsung's Galaxy line, were credited with shares of just 5.7% and 4.2%, respectively.

"That was a pretty harsh assessment of tablet competition, but there again, considering how far ahead iOS is with dedicated apps, maybe not," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi in a tweet, referring to Cook's knock against rival tablets.

Cook, imitating his predecessor, co-founder Steve Jobs, has become known for taking potshots at the competition.

In early 2012, after Amazon's then-new Kindle Fire had grabbed a considerable chunk of the tablet market in the last months of 2011, Cook dismissed what he called "single-feature" devices, a clear reference to the Fire, which at the time was foremost a souped-up e-reader.

"People want to do multiple things with their tablets," Cook said then. "We can continue to compete with anyone currently shipping tablets or who might in the future."

A few months later, Cook roasted the concept of tablets with keyboards, a reference to rumors that Microsoft's hardware partners would design hybrids for the upcoming Windows 8. Mid-year, Microsoft itself entered the category with its Surface tablets, which have been promoted as both tablet, and -- when equipped with an optional keyboard cover -- a credible notebook.

"Anything can be forced to converge," Cook said in April 2012. "But the problem is that products are about trade-offs, and you begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn't please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user."

But Cook may be on shaky ground relying on Chitika for data.

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