Apple CEO Cook: Customer satisfaction, usage gap between iOS and Android is 'huge'


Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook is shrugging off threats posed by the growth of mobile competitors like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), dismissing both companies as imitators in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

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"Everybody is trying to adopt Apple's strategy," Cook said in regards to Google's 2011 acquisition of Motorola Mobility and Microsoft's recent $7.2 billion agreement to purchase Nokia's (NYSE:NOK) phones business, moves that enable both firms to integrate their mobile software and hardware efforts in house a la Apple. "We're not looking for external validation of our strategy, but I think it does suggest that there's a lot of copying, kind of, on the strategy and that people have recognized that importance." Cook added that Nokia's rapid descent from worldwide smartphone kingpin to also-ran "is a reminder to everyone in business that you have to keep innovating and that to not innovate is to die."

Google's Android dominated the worldwide smartphone market during the second quarter of 2013 with sales of 178 million units, according to research firm Gartner. While Apple trails a distant second, selling 32 million iPhones between April 1 and June 30, it still enjoys a significant lead on third-place Windows Phone, which generated second-quarter sales of 7.4 million.

"I think it's even more a two-operating-system world today than it was before," Cook said. "When you look at things like customer satisfaction and usage, you see the gap between Android and iOS being huge." Cook cited the imbalance of activity on iOS compared to Android, noting that iOS devices generate close to 55 percent of all mobile Web activity and that Apple's iPad accounted for close to 90 percent of tablet-based online shopping traffic on Black Friday 2012.

"Does a unit of market share matter if it's not being used?" Cook asked. "For us, it matters that people use our products. We really want to enrich people's lives, and you can't enrich somebody's life if the product is in the drawer."

Cook also took issue with Android platform fragmentation. At last count, Android device owners are running five different versions of the open-source OS, while the overwhelming majority of iOS users run the current iteration of the software. In addition, operator and manufacturer customizations often slow the release of new Android updates, while iOS is uniform across the Apple device ecosystem.

"I don't think of Android as one thing," Cook said, explaining that the incompatibilities between competing versions make each entirely different from the others. He added that fragmentation creates a "compounding problem" that impacts mobile app developers and consumers alike. "It will show up for people that no longer have access to certain apps," Cook said. "It will show up in security issues because if you're not moving your customer base to the latest version, then you have to go back and plug holes in all of this old stuff, and people don't really do that to a great degree."

A Google spokeswoman told Bloomberg Businessweek that "the measures we have in place are protecting consumers."

Apple released iOS 7 to consumers Wednesday. The revamp signals the elimination of skeuomorphism, the longstanding iOS design aesthetic that leverages real-world images and metaphors like linen-textured backgrounds, wooden bookshelves and spiral-bound notebooks. iOS 7 also heralds the launch of multitasking for all apps, AirDrop wireless file sharing and the iTunes Radio streaming music service.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg Businessweek article

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