Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to questions about the issue of potential cannibalization of Mac sales by iPad devices on today’s earnings call, a question made more timely by the fact that Mac sales were down considerably on the quarter. He reiterated that supply constraints are leading to fewer sales, but also tackled cannibalization as a broad topic, noting that there is opportunity there for the iPad in a couple of important ways.
Cook reiterated that Apple “never fear[s] cannibalization,” since it’s always better to cannibalize your own products rather than have someone else do it to you. But then he went on to address the larger picture, talking about the PC market in general. “On iPad in particular we have the mother of all opportunities here, because the Windows market is much larger than the Mac market,” he said. “I’ve said in the past that I believe the tablet market would be larger than the PC market at some point and I still believe that.”
Another point he made sure to bring up was the so-called “halo effect” that the iPhone has been shown to have, whereby first-time buyers of Apple devices who pick one up tend to then purchase other products. The iPad, too, has plenty of potential to trigger that phenomenon.
“If someone buys an iPad mini or an iPad and it’s their first Apple product, we have great experience over the years knowing that there’s a great percentage they’ll buy another iPad product,” he said. “We’re very confident that that will happen and we’re seeing some evidence of that on the iPad as well, so I see cannibalization as a huge opportunity.”
Cannibalization is something Apple has always embraced, but that’s because the products that replace it always tend to rack up way more sales than the ones they’re pushing to the periphery. The Mac may be on the decline, but as long as the iPad continues to shine, it’s true that that’s likely of limited concern to Apple and its top brass.