Tim Cook "Shocked" At iPad Demand, "Can’t Think Of A Single Thing A Netbook Does Well"

Not surprisingly on Apple’s earnings call today, there were a lot of questions about Apple’s newest product, the iPad. And I do mean a lot — it seems that about half of the questions were about the product. Unfortunately, neither Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer nor COO Tim Cook gave many answers about the product. Their standard line was that there wasn’t enough data yet to draw any conclusions. But Cook did slip in a few interesting statements about the device.

When asked about Apple’s recent decision to delay iPad shipments to Europe, Cook candidly said that U.S. demand for the iPad “has shocked us.” He noted that it’s a good problem to have, and that there are no production problems — Apple simply underestimated how popular the device would be right off the bat. Apple announced that first day sales surpassed 300,000 and that first week sales were past 500,000. But since then, they haven’t said much. Some estimates put sales past 1 million already.

More interesting though, was what Cook said in response to a question about the iPad’s positioning against netbooks. “To me, it’s a no-brainer,” Cook said. “It’s sort of 100 to 0. I can’t think of a single thing a netbook does well.” This echoes similar statements made by CEO Steve Jobs when he remarked during the iPad’s unveiling that netbooks “aren’t better at anything.” And in the past, Jobs has noted that Apple didn’t know how to build $500 computers that weren’t a “piece of junk.” Clearly, Apple thinks of the iPad as different than a regular computer, and, a netbook.

Of course, Apple’s newly heated rival Google has a different opinion. Later this year, Google will unveil the first Chrome OS netbooks. These machines have been built by partners working closely with Google to make sure they’re not — at least in Google’s mind — pieces of junk. This year’s holiday shopping market for $500 machines should be interesting, to say the least.