iPad not affected by Kindle Fire, still cannibalizing Mac but cannibalizing Windows more

As part of Apple's Q2 2012 conference call, CEO Tim Cook was asked what, if any effect low-cost, feature-reduced tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire had on iPad 2 sales over the holiday quarter. Technically, he was asked a more leading question -- did he think people went to the store, looked at Kindle Fire and its ilk, and then bought the more functional iPad?

Cook responded that he pays attention to US sales data on a weekly basis, he saw no change, plus or minus, on iPad sales following Amazon's introduction of the Kindle Fire. He had, however, heard that theory anecdotally from customers.

It's a common belief touted in some markets -- that low cost or free entrants spur interest among consumers who ultimately opt for a more premium option. In terms of Mac sales, Cook re-iterated that Apple is seeing cannibalization by the iPad, but he still believes low-end Windows PCs are being hit much harder. And he loves that.

With 15.43 million iPads sold in the last quarter, 55 million since launch in 2010, and with 170,000 iPad-specific apps in the iTunes App Store, Cook thinks the overall offering and ecosystem are hard to beat and that, long term, iPad is a huge opportunity for Apple. Overall, Cook doesn't see limited functionality, lower cost tablets or e-readers as even in the same category, and doesn't think customers who want the iPad would settle for less.

Last year, Cook said, wasn't the year of the tablet. It was the year of the iPad 2.

(Hey, where did we read that before?)