Apple CEO Cook calls Android tablets 'crappy.' Is he right?

Are Android tablets really far inferior to iPads?

Apple CEO Tim Cook tells the Wall Street Journal that Android tablets are "crappy" compared to iPads. Does he have a point, or is it just the usual Apple bluster?

In a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal, Cook takes dead aim at Android tablets. He's asked "Will the smartphone market follow the PC market, where Apple is a niche player?" Rather than talk about the iPhone versus Android phones, he diverts the talk to comparing the iPad to Android tablets.

He points out correctly that Windows beat the Mac in large part because there were so many more applications available for Windows:

"If you look back at the Mac/Windows battle that was going on at the time, you'd find that one of the things that was the catalyst for separating Mac from Windows share was applications. There was a vast, vast difference in the number of applications that was available for the Macintosh than what was available on Windows. Over time, that gap grew and grew and grew. And in fact, the Mac began to lose some key applications."

He then lays the hammer on Android tablets, saying that they're "crappy" because they have so few apps optimized for them:

"We have over a million apps on iOS. We have over half-million that have been optimized for iPad. That half-million compares to 1,000 for Android tablets. That's one of the reasons, although not the only reason, why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy because the app is nothing more than a stretched out smartphone app."

Is he right? Is the experience on Android tablets really a "crappy" one?

I've got multiple Android tablets, including a Google Nexus 7, a Xoom, a Kindle tablet, and several Nooks. I've written a book about the Galaxy Tab. And I've used other Android tablets as well. And although Cook is right that many Android apps are essentially "stretched-out smartphone apps," that doesn't make the Android tablet experience "crappy." And keep in mind that overall, there are about as many Android apps as iOS apps.

I don't know where Cook got his number of only 1,000 apps optimized for Android tablets, but it sounds far too low. And the truth is, the vast majority of the most popular apps, the ones you want to run, are optimized for tablets. Almost all of the apps I use on my Android tablets have been tablet-optimized, and that likely holds for many people. And the Android operating system itself certainly isn't crappy. It's more difficult to use than iOS to a certain extent, but also far more customizable.

So Cook is wrong about the Android tablet experience being a "crappy" one. And given that he's not nearly the master marketer that Steve Jobs was, he's unlikely to make his criticism stick.

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