Apple's seamless integration of iPhone hardware and software shows that it's one of the few companies in the IT industry that can manage a mobile platform, according to Apple COO Tim Cook.
In a Q&A Tuesday at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, Cook was asked whether Apple considers itself a mobile device company. In light of the crucial role iPhone revenue has played in helping Apple to survive rough recessionary waters, it wasn't surprising to hear Cook embrace the mobile label.
In Apple's latest quarter, in which the company pulled in nearly $15.7 billion in revenue, the growth of the mobile business was particularly evident, Cook said.
"As we compared ourselves to every other company in the world, including Sony, Nokia, and Samsung ... We found out that we were the largest [mobile company] in the world measured by revenue. So yes, you should look at Apple as a mobile device company," Cook responded.
Apple has sold more than 40 million iPhones and 35 million iPod Touch devices to date, and this is fueling the booming popularity of Apple's App Store. Enterprise iPhone sales are also on the rise, with 70 percent of Fortune 100 companies in the U.S. currently in the process of deploying or testing the iPhone, said Cook.
With the iPad launch looming, Apple's mobile application platform looks set for continued growth. "What all of these things are doing is making this platform larger and larger, and the ecosystem better and better," Cook said. "The applications are becoming more and more what people desire and they can't live without them."
Apple's burgeoning mobile business is a stark contrast to what's happening at Microsoft, which despite last week's unveiling of Windows Phone 7 still has a lot of ground to make up in the mobile market. This wasn't lost on Cook, who cited Apple's tight control over iPhone hardware as one of the keys to its success.
"We believe that we are uniquely positioned to do extremely well in a mobile device world because we can integrate together seamlessly software and hardware," Cook said.
Microsoft on Monday revealed its intention to exert greater control over Windows Phone 7 devices by setting minimum hardware requirements for OEM partners. This is a departure from the longstanding state of affairs in the Windows Mobile ecosystem, where partners essentially had free reign to come up with their own device designs, and it shows that Microsoft sees the merits of Apple's approach.
In Cook's opinion, the old way of doing things just isn't viable in today's mobile market. Cook didn't mention Microsoft by name, but his message could have hardly been clearer.
"The traditional model, where one company does an operating system, another company does key core applications, and yet another company does hardware, really begins to fall apart significantly in a mobile device world," Cook said at the event.