"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know those things are not going to be probably pleasing to the user," said Cook, during a conference call with analysts Tuesday, during which he announced that iPad sales were up a whopping 151%, year-over-year, in the second quarter.
Cook didn't mention Apple's chief rival by name, but there's little doubt his comments were aimed at Microsoft and its hardware partners, which later this year plan to introduce Windows 8 systems with convertible form factors that allow them to transform from laptops to tablets.
"Anything can be forced to converge," said Cook. "But the problem is that the products are about tradeoffs. You begin to make tradeoffs to the point that what you have left at the end of the day doesn't please anyone."
Cook said that, despite the booming popularity of the iPad, "I also believe there is a very good market for the MacBook Air."
[ Get expert guidance on Microsoft Windows 8. InformationWeek's Windows 8 Super Guide rounds up the key news, analysis, and reviews that you need. ]
"I do think it appeals to someone who has a little bit different requirements. And you wouldn't want to put these things together because you wind up compromising both and not pleasing the user. Some people will own both, and that's great there. But I think to make the compromises of convergence, we're not going to that party. Others might," said Cook.
The "others" are Microsoft and its OEM partners. A number of them already offer laptop-tablet convertibles that can run the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Available models include the HP EliteBook, Dell Inspiron Duo, and the Fujitsu Lifebook. Those vendors and others are expected to ship new, Windows 8 convertible devices when the OS is released for shipping, most likely this fall.
Other Microsoft partners, including Asus and Lenovo, are expected to eventually ship tablet-only Windows 8 devices that run on ARM-based chips manufactured by Qualcomm, Nvidia, or Lenovo. There are signs, however, that Windows on ARM (or Windows RT) tablets will not ship until after Intel-based Windows 8 systems hit the market.
Microsoft has said that all Windows on ARM tablets will ship with a touch-optimized version of Office 15 pre-installed. Earlier this month, documents leaked to the Internet showed that Office 15 may not be ready until early next year, implying that Windows on ARM tablets won't be available until 2013. Microsoft has not commented.
InformationWeek is conducting a survey on the state of enterprise applications and business processes and organizations' priorities in evolving technology over the next 12 to 24 months. Upon completion of our survey, you will be eligible to enter a drawing to receive an 32-GB Apple iPod Touch. Take our Enterprise Applications Survey now. Survey ends April 27.