Apple's Cook On iPad/Mac Relationship: “If This Is Cannibalization, It Feels Pretty Good.”

During the earnings call following Apple’s blockbuster Q1 2011 results, a questions was asked about Apple’s Mac business as it relates to the iPad business. The iPad business, after all, is growing much faster (and just overtook the Apple portable computer business in terms of revenue). So is it affecting the Mac business by eating into it?

Was there any cannibalization? Honestly, I don’t know for sure. But yes, I think there is some cannibalization,” Apple COO Tim Cook (who is the acting head of Apple while Steve Jobs is on medical leave) said in response. This echoes the thoughts Jobs had last quarter when asked the same basic question. “The iPad is clearly going to affect notebook computers,” Jobs said at the time.

But Cook also said that he thought there was a “halo effect” as well. That is, just as is thought to have happened with the iPod and the iPhone, certain Apple products are helping the company sell other products. So Cook believes that while the iPad may be eating into some of the would-be Mac sales, it’s also fueling other new Mac sales.

He also noted that it’s likely that the iPad is not only cannibalizing Mac sales, but also sales for the larger PC industry. Cook pointed out that Apple still has a relatively small share of the overall market. “So the other guys lose a lot more,” he noted.

He said that internally, Apple doesn’t worry about cannibalization or even think about it. “The iPad team works on making their product the best. Same with the Mac team. Both teams think they can continue to grow,” he said.

If this is cannibalization, it feels pretty good,” he quipped.