Cook jabs at Windows, Android in WWDC keynote

Plays to partisan crowd, but leaves as much out as in when he compares apples and oranges

Apple may have had a lot to dish out Monday to developers, but that didn't stop CEO Tim Cook from taking time to talk a little smack about rivals Microsoft and Google.

Cook, who opened and closed the two-hour presentation, but actually spent little time on stage, tossed a brickbat Microsoft's way early on.

"This is the fastest adoption ever of any PC operating system in history," Cook boasted of OS X Mavericks, which he said accounted for 51% of all Macs in use. "Now, you may wonder how that compares to Windows. I knew somebody was going to ask, so I made a chart."

Behind Cook, the pie chart showed that Windows 8, which Microsoft launched in October 2012, owned a small sliver of Windows overall. "It's at 14%. Need I say more?" Cook continued, to applause and laughter from the very pro-Apple crowd.

It's unclear where Cook got his figures: According to the latest statistics from Web analytics vendor Net Application, Mavericks powered 56% of all versions of OS X that went online in May. Meanwhile, Net Applications pegged Windows 8's share -- including the free follow-up, Windows 8.1 -- at 13% of all Windows PCs for the same period.

Data discrepancies aside, Cook neglected to mention that, while Mavericks may have won the in-house adoption skirmish and been installed on 40 million Macs, the number was less than one-fifth of the estimated 220 million-plus systems now running Windows 8 or 8.1.

Just as glaring was Cook's omission of the fact that Mavericks was free, likely the key driver for its fast adoption tempo. By Net Applications' tally, Mavericks will probably hit the 70% share mark by the time it's replaced with OS X Yosemite this fall; not even the vaunted OS X Snow Leopard, the 2009 edition that millions of Macs still run, managed that feat.

Because Microsoft charged for Windows 8, but gave Windows 8.1 away free, a more equitable comparison would be between Mavericks and Windows 8.1. Not surprisingly, Windows 8.1's adoption has been almost as rapid as Mavericks: Since its October 2013 debut -- the same month Apple shipped Mavericks -- Windows 8.1 has driven its share of all Windows 8 PCs to just over 50%.

Cook has a reputation for flinging barbs at competitors. In the quarterly earnings calls that he's done since his 2011 promotion, Cook has compared hybrid devices -- those that blend traits of both tablets and PC notebooks -- to everything from a toaster-refrigerator combo to a car that flies and floats.

About halfway through the keynote, Cook returned to the stage and took aim at another rival, Google.

As he touted the 130 million customers who bought an iOS device in the last 12 months, and were new to the Apple ecosystem, he said, "Many of these customers were switchers from Android. They had bought an Android phone," he said, pausing a beat for the punch line, "by mistake. Then they had sought a better experience ... and a better life."

The audience ate it up.

Cook also swung at Android with the same stick he had wielded against Windows, contrasting iOS 7's 90%-plus penetration with the 9% adoption of Android 4.4, aka "KitKat."

Cook's iOS 7 stats seemed to be taken from ad network Chitika, which last week said 90% of U.S. and Canadian iPhone users were running that version. The KitKat number appeared to be from Google's developer dashboard, which lists Android 4.4 with 8.5% of all Android devices worldwide that access the Google Play app in the past seven days.

The most commonly-used version of Android is 4.1.x, the first iteration of "Jelly Bean" that landed on a device in July 2012, and has a 34% share.

Again, what Cook left unsaid was telling: While iOS 7 may have won the adoption battle, Android has repeatedly won the smartphone shipment war: According to IDC's latest forecast, Android will out ship iOS more than five to one in 2014.

But no one said keynotes have to play fair.

Cook on stage
Apple CEO Tim Cook knocked Windows 8's adoption pace during the WWDC keynote Monday. (Image: Apple.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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