Steve Jobs is turning over in his grave. Apple CEO Tim Cook might have made his first big mistake as the man in charge when he said: “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.”

This quote was in reference toWindows 8 and its Metro interface being able to work on laptops and tablets. Cook added that Apple has no plans or interest to combine tablet and laptop computing environments. Another quote from Cook has him saying: “We are not going to that party, but others might from a defensive point of view.” Cook said that Microsoft’s approach is a “trade-off” and has the possibility of not pleasing any users.

“You wouldn’t want to put these things together because you end up compromising in both and not pleasing either user. Some people will prefer to own both, and that’s great too. But to make the compromise of convergence, we’re not going to that party,” Cook said during an earnings call with analysts.

If Cook is correct or incorrect it does not matter because the mistake he made was to address a competitor’s new product offering. Apple is the clear-cut leader and does not need to talk about its competition. By doing so it lends credibility to Microsoft’s product. Steve Jobs never did this as CEO. He only talked about his own products.

This is a line that CEOs, who run market leaders, do not cross. And, the reason for that is; there’s no benefit in making those statements. Apple is already on top and the majority of the marketplace wants to buy Apple products so why advertise the other company’s stuff and their new market approach? Customers listen to Cook and he just told them that the Windows 8 will work seamlessly on a laptop and a tablet. People might just be looking for a solution like that.

You also open yourself up to ridicule. Case in point Microsoft’s top communications executive Frank Shaw tweeted: “Must be a typo, It’s not a toaster/fridge. It’s a toaster/oven. Those seem pretty popular. Just saying. #win8” in response to Cook’s Windows 8 comment.

And, what’s to say that the market might just want something like the Metro interface. I checked it out at the recently concluded Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto and I thought it worked quite well. I did not have to switch my brain from laptop mode to tablet mode to smartphone mode.
 
Now I doubt Cook is shaking in his boots over the fact that Microsoft is launching Windows 8 in October. Executives at his level never panic but this mistake, in my opinion, has given credibility to Windows 8 not just being a strong alternative but at actual market challenger to Apple.
 
Two quick hits before I go. Erin Sherry is the new CEO of Newmarket, Ont.-based solution provider Unity Telecom. You will remember that its founder and CEO Dave Sherry passed away last month. Also Randy Bergeron will get the president's title.
 
Neil Tanner is leaving Microsoft Canada at the end of the summer. He was the vice president of SMB and Partners at the subsidiary. The job has been posted at Microsoft worldwide.
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