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Did Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s Tim Cook Just Have a Steve Ballmer Moment?

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s CEO Tim Cook dismissed Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Glass at Tuesday night’s D11 conference, characterizing it as niche product. While he might ultimately be proven correct, history suggests that he could regret those words — as could Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s shareholders.

Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS)

Cook’s statements

While being interviewed at the D11 conference, Cook was asked about his take on Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass, and more broadly, the growing trend of wearable computing.

Cook hinted that it’s an area Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on. Specifically, he identified it as an area “ripe for exploration” and one that has “lots of things to solve.” He refused to directly admit that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was working on a wearable device, although reading his statements would incline most to believe that an iWatch was forthcoming.

“To convince people they have to wear something, it has to be incredible. If we asked a room of 20-year-olds to stand up if they’re wearing a watch, I don’t think anyone would stand up.”

So a watch? Yes. Glass? Not so much.

“I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people who wear them because they don’t have to.”

Cook admitted that there were some “positives” in Glass, but he characterized the potential of broad appeal as being “hard to see.”

Early reviews of Google Glass would support Cook’s ideas

I’ve covered it before, but early reviews of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass tend to support Cook’s theory. In general, most reviews of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass have found it to be lacking, hardly worth the $1,500 price tag.

But it’s truly a revolutionary product, one that’s been seen only in sci-fi movies. It will certainly take time and many iterations to perfect, but Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Glass offers a whole new way for users to connect with the Internet.

Contrast that with a rumored smartwatch. No one — outside of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) — definitively knows what the product will offer, but if it’s anything like the Pebble, the answer is: not much.

For all intents and purposes, the Pebble smartwatch serves as a phone’s second screen. As one reviewer put it, “[it] helps me to prioritize when my phone needs to come out of my pocket.”

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