It makes complete sense that Apple would believe their devices are superior compared to the competition. It's an atmosphere harbored by Steve Jobs himself and duly earned. Yet Apple under the direction of CEO Tim Cook has been much less exciting. It's been polarizing. To say Apple has innovated without Steve Jobs would amass a barrage of doubters. And to say they're still leading the mobile industry might even get laughed at.

And laughter is my reaction to Tim Cook's recent quote about OLED display technology.

Cook told investors at a meeting hosted by Goldman Sachs this past Tuesday that the color saturation of OLED displays is "awful." He went on to say "you should really think twice before you depend on the color from an OLED display."

His argument that accurate color representation isn't a forte of OLED displays is valid. You wouldn't have to travel too far to find someone who agrees with that. Organic light-emitting diode displays produce colors that are often a misrepresentation of their true hue. You'd use words like "pop" and "vivid" to describe an OLED panel. However, what you gain with an OLED display is usually worth the trade-off. The result is deep blacks and high contrast levels that make images blast into your retina. With the brightness maximized, colors literally burn into the display all the while using less power.

My main gripe with Cook's opinion that OLED displays are awful is that many disagree. To say his opinion is completely off-target would be an understatement. When your main competitor is Samsung who conveniently makes 90% of the world's AMOLED panels, you'd think Cook meant something else entirely when he called them "awful." It's not a coincidence that Samsung's Galaxy S IV will showcase a 4.99-inch 1080p AMOLED display in the coming months. To top it off, AMOLED displays are supposed to be on 50% of all cell phones by the year 2014, and by 2015 they will become the world's main TV panel technology.

Clearly, OLED panels are here to stay.

It's this sort of comment that has got many people thinking just what Apple might be doing in the smartphone market these days. If they cannot acknowledge the success of new technology, then what real good is a stagnant device that rests on six year-old laurels?

There's no doubt that Apple's devices are groundbreaking. Whether you have the original iPhone or the new iPad, Apple has defined multiple markets with their successes. But from Apple's perspective, it must be getting exhausting to prove it, and especially exhausting to prove their iPhone 5's comparatively small 4-inch Retina display is truly magical.

So, what exactly does a CEO do after insulting their main competitor, the future of the smartphone industry, and the very near future of the TV industry, all at once?

Defend their products, of course.

"Whereas many companies compete to get the highest specs on their devices, Apple sweats every little detail," says Cook. He went on to say that he thinks Apple's devices have the "best display" on the market. Cook is finally starting to sound like Steve Jobs.

While Cook's opinion may be in line with some opinions of OLED displays, it's not his opinion that matters. Apple invented the smartphone market. They invented the tablet market. They continue to push the boundaries of what an app ecosystem can be. So, if we aren't staring straight at a compliment to OLED displays, then I don't know how else Cook can say it.

We have seen Jobs defend a product by attacking competing device's technologies. It's classic Apple marketing and it's not new. Soon after releasing such a blasphemous opinion that garners attention just like this editorial aims to, Jobs would then release his own "superior" version of the technology and it would immediately be acceptable, magical, and revolutionary.

Tim Cook's opinion that OLED displays are "awful" signifies a shift in Apple's offense. Under the reign of Steve Jobs, Apple rarely acknowledged that they even had competition, but when he did it never went unnoticed. 

If this isn't a step in a new direction for Apple's marketing strategy post-Steve Jobs, I'm not sure what is.

It comes as no surprise that Cook feels the need to address the most popular TV-technology at CES 2013 and the future of mobile devices to come, all at once. It's just in time for Apple to innovate. Some might say they're simply defending their Retina display and reassuring investors that Apple's display offers superior image quality. But I'm more inclined to believe that Apple is about to release a device using an OLED panel to call their own. The only questions left are what they'll call it when they invent it, and what it'll end up on. iWatch with a curved display? The infamous iTV? What about an iGlass?

Reader! What are your thoughts on Tim Cook's opinion of all OLED displays? Is it mere coincidence the Samsung Galaxy S IV will offer a 4.99-inch 1080p panel? Was it a calculated comment towards their rivals? What iDevice do you think Apple would put an OLED panel on? Let me know how you feel about Apple and their comparatively slow innovation in the comments below!

Image via Extremetech and Extremetech

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105 Reactions to this post

"Apple's CEO just said Samsung's smartphone displays are "awful." Is this the new defense of the world's most valuable company, or is it a new offense in 2013? "

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
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Dave Yaeck I really feel that Tim Cook is off is rocker. Samsung displays on the S3 and the Note 2 Rival the Retina screens of the iPhone. He's just reaching right now for the fact that the S4 and the Note 3 are on their way soon but they have nothing to really compete with it. Believe me I hope they do but if they just come out with another phone with one or two little changes the tide that is already turning will become a flood.
Bo Abe Vorachack Does apple know that their screen is LCD n not even high def? Not 720p, not even 1080p, n they think that stupid screen is good? Lol.
Chester Candelaria nothing in this world is perfect everthing has it's own drawbacks but apple can't take it that their so called retina display is so yesterday's news
Matt Kerney Apple does realize that the Samsung displays in their high-end devices actually have HD 720p res. or greater, right??
Jeff Seaver I got both phone and love them both. If I am Apple CEO just keep focus up grading my iPhone before get behind
Eduardo Ordaz That's not going to stop me and my mom from buying a Samsung phone. We are going to get the S4. Besides that's apple they whine all the freaken time. Just ignore them. Sammy is the best.
Anonymous Apple's displays DO look better. There's just something about them... A certain je ne sais quoi? I can't put my finger on it.
Gary Bowling I have not an issue with my Note 2's display.
Niall Barr I means s4 lol
Niall Barr Just wait for the s5 and some FULL 1080P
Jordan Williams I like my IPS display. I like the Super LCD panels that HTC used in the G2 and the Sensation/Amaze a little bit better, due to color, but Apple is starting to slip...and it's becoming more obvious by the day that they know this fact.
Paul Alexandru And i agree, whoever wrote bullshit in the title is a samsung fucktard, most probably aaron...Apple's display is the best
Jose Calderon Derek, Samsung uses OLED displays for their S III, which has a bit of a off-tint to it. Apple buys from them but they buy their regular LCDs, not OLED. Apple is also trying hard to drop Samsung as a supplier.
Jose Calderon Bo, more pixels on a screen does not necessarily make for a better experience. That's a very superficial way to look at it. Nintendo has the same approach. More console polygon power does not make for a better experience.
Bo Abe Vorachack IPhone screen is not even HD. Wouldn't a HD screen be better than 600p or whatever apple has. They are the only phone company that doesn't even have 720p, lol.
Jonathan Onuluk They know they are no longer top dog so they are reverting to childish behavior pathetic.
Derek Lombardi If Samsung displays are so bad then why is Apple buying them by the millions?
Paulo De Freitas Green with envy much, Mr Tim Cook???
Jose Calderon True, compared to the iPhone 5, the S III screen looks tinted. Just compare them yourselves.
James Norwood The only thing that's awful is apple's desperation to stay on top by suing and bribing
Murtaza Rzv Samsung devices and their displays are company
Chelsea Holloway Well whatever ya say apple. Right now I'm typing this from my iPhone, but later I'll be using my awesome Samsung phone I just bought! Bye Apple.
Sam Rick Lame...crapple is falling behind and they know it...they are soooo 2007
Robert Smith lol apple seems yo be a bit sour now, eh?
George Millhouse Get your facts straight, Exxon is the most valuable company now.
Dan Daniel indoors Samsung screen are some of the brightest, not best. Outside in sunlight they suck like no other. Technically speaking they are not near the top of what out there right now. Niether are Apples.
Sean Watson It doesnt matter if he singles Samsung out or not. This is just typical asshole attitude by apple towards everything tech that doesnt start with an I. They always were, and always will be corporate tech bully jerks
Florens Richter He just don't know how to deal with iPhone 5 sales drop
Nick Guerrero G Only if the iPhone could do half of what Samsung galaxy s3 can do? Almost a year ago apple was crying about every little move that Samsung would do!
Juwon Donte Apple's still around???..but to be serious if Apple made better technology instead of putting an s behind every phone they sell iPhone 3gs 4s..then their wouldn't be an need for these childish games android&Samsung has taken over iPhones are a thing of the past
Flako Ramirez Samsung fTW
Corey Forde although Cool didnt actually say that, i agree to an extent. the gs3's display is not that great at all.
Jeff Griffith Kind of a ass statement, but he's right.
Jason Ramos As much as I hate Apple they are right about this. I much prefer IPS. More color accuracy. The screen on the S3 has a bluish tint and can look cartoonish at times. Never a pure white like the IPS screens
Keith Ainsley Really? Why my S3 screen is looking awesome right now.
Kenneth Li please tell me samsung phones screen are too big! i dont want the idiot company to make bigger screen iDiotPhones!
Kennii PrIv LeGu Kalonji I'm not an appple fan, but I do agree with this statement. I wanted a Galaxy S3 so badly until I saw the screen, it looks terrible in comparison to an LCD on the iphone or the htc one x. The colours of the AMOLEDs are not accurate at all, if people honestly will sit and say the screen on a samsung phone is better than the LCD panel on an iphone... then as a Tech enthusiast i'm worried that we may have a whole new cult of biased sheep.
Sum David he said so cos his devices never defeat any company such as he fail to be pop in Computer productions and now in phones. Keep heading Up Samsung...
Nick Catelli Nice misleading title. Nowhere in the article did he state "Samsung's displays are awful." He stated that "the color saturation on OLED displays are awful" in comparison to other display technologies. I'm inclined to agree with him on this. The color saturation on LCD panels tend to be much more accurate and true to life, which is something you want in a panel. AMOLED's and OLED's tend to accentuate colors (the whole red spectrum on a lot of AMOLED panels looks orange on many handsets) that aren't actually that shade. While their contrast ratios tend to be much higher, the struggle with color accuracy (as evidence of the fact that the iPhone 5's panel has one of the highest color accuracies of any smartphone and is fully RGB specification compliant). In other words, read the article before you comment uninformed hate towards a man who didn't even say what the title of the article said he did.
Aaron Cantu Haha... Screw you too apple
Paul Battle The main selling point for to buy my galaxy nexus was its super amoled display. I love the color over saturation.
Nick Koval So that's why samsung is outselling apple because of the awful screen lol that's why I got the note 2 love the huge screen:-)
Steev Adelesthirdchin Convery Jealous of superior technology as usual.
Justin Deus If you can't tell the difference with the naked eye unless you hold it uncomfortably close to your eye WHO CARES. Apple sucks anyway, they got one style of phone and a display thats more like a widescreen tv sideways. Make a more customizable os and more thant ONE iphone.
Rohit Sakhrani Still prefer samsung over apple
Debbie Kains-Coupal Sure some people may think iPhone has a better display because of it's teeny tiny screen! Truth is, besides children, most people would have to use high powered reading glasses to read it! Galaxy S3 and Note two are two if the best phones out right now and that is because if the disply. My Galaxy Note 2 screen is flawless and wouldn't trade it for anything, except maybe the Galaxy Note 3! Apple needs to except the fact that they will soon be a thing of the past!
Cesario Brito Jr. Apple, just shut up already. Instead of talking hot garbage, how about you worry about improving your product. Oh wait you just sue.
Curtis M. Cook I kind of agree. I like my Nexus 4's & 7's display a lot better than my Galaxy Nexus's display.
Cotton Collins I own and apple that's awsome . But I think the samsungs just a bit better
Cotton Collins LensCrafters is what he needs
Marti Ruiz what u expect from a screen made by lg and sharp. sharp?. my nexus 4 has high pixel drnsity as the iphone but yhe color is poor comparrd to superamoled .
Douglas Prevo Just Apple continuing to play the role of corporate all around jerk. Its a great image. Definitely motivates me to buy... something else, something not Apple.
Nebojsa Vracaric never mind the Apple cult and all but they are just being childish about everything nowadays =_= they lost even the last speck of respect with me a long time ago...
Reese Woodson This is coming from a company who doesn't even build their own phones lol. The "retina" display is just a ISP LCD display made by LG. The rest of the iPhone parts are made from Samsung Mobile and etc. Apple has no room to talk until they build their own phone and make their own display tech.
Dalton Davis Apple sucks!
Martin Pribojsky lol, apple is awful at least.
Ken Reil Apple's CEO is an idiot. Look at the share price under his "reign".
Freecky FreeWag I just think apple will die soon, because they play so much in tribunal, then now anybody want share technology with them, and if they want buy technology's, they can't say "That is a revolution !"
Arturo Atherly
Jacob Jessop What a retard. To be bashing on the company that he gets his own hardware from!? Haha what a child.
Aaron Couts Apple is getting desperate lol
Blake Salsgiver I have a iPhone 5 and the Note 2 screen blows my phone away! I should have went with the Note 2!
Nicholas Broun apple r such a crap comany, ur just paying for a brand name and a metal boz, lets face it, my Nokia 6120 classic can do more then an iphone
Martin Smeaton This means Apple is going to start using the same displays next year and claim they are revolutionary!
Rashaud Cook I'm willing to bet everyone that loves Samsung wouldn't have one if the screen wasn't big, you all would have a iPhone. No one cared about Samsung until the S3 4.8", before that it was all about iPhone.
Carl Dale Sensation xe is where its at fellas ")
Rashaud Cook Apple FTW
Christopher Keeley He's right! I have a note 2 and my wife an iphone 5 and it's not even close. It's like when best buy has those hdtv sets blasting really bright blue, that's a unrealistic display. I turn my note 2 to natural. The iphone 5 display destroys amoled.
Freecky FreeWag They just say that because Samsung don't want sell Oled screen to apple because they still go to tribunal for design or fight about design, when Apple use Samsung label's for data network without pay anything...
Jawon Chance Sounds like sour grapes to me....
Dominic Jessup Reid Calm down Apple, Samsung got you this far, need you be reminded.
Anonymous Apple is totally boring mother may I phone
Robby Olko Not gonna lie I do like IPS on my Nexus 4 more than amoled. But its a preference
Fernando Gonzalez Waaaaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaaaaaaa waaaaaaaa That's all I hear from Apple.
Ilyas Khayrutdinov That's funny, considering that Samsung manufactures most of their terrible Retina displays. And saying that Samsung screens are awful is like saying that the great white shark is a terrible predator. And this whole time, I thought Tim Cook was smart. So much for that.
Rin Von Irisviel Einzbren lol Retina display is awful also 4 inch is to small for my eyes :p
Isaac Esac J Blueoled six guys truhd ips optimus g ftw
Todd Donna Apples displays are Perfect and I know cause I've had a few If it's not lately gets missing pixels nothing is perfect I have had many Apple products As well as the other guys and I prefer OLED displays
Timus Maximus Apple = blah-blah-blah :)
Max Wong I think retina and AMOLED are both fantastic displays to be honest. They just produce a different color saturation and that's up to the buyer as to which one is better. I think cook has a right to express his views but I don't think it is very professional to call it "awful". I have a iPhone 5 and a Galaxy Note 2 and I can say that both screens are fantastic in their own respective manner
Tabib Rehman Samsungs amoled displays make retina look dull and boring thats a fact
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla Especially the white color is very much bluish
Josue Landaverde Honestly apple sucks. Their phones are too simple. There's not much you can do unless you jail break it. I bet when apple got the super amoled display on the 4S they switched it up to give the same display but changed the name. Plus you can really see HD videos on the iPhone cause the screen is too small.
Jozef Sakac I agree Andrea love my nexus 4 oh and the screen is better too
Altin Alihajdari S3 display is the best by far.
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla I'm not an apple fan, but I can see the difference in colors compared to htc one x or iphone.
Yaqub Risley No one ever says, Oooh is that an iPhone, let me see it. Because it's nearly exactly the same every year. People always ask to fondle my... Note II.
Razvan Razv Noobs .. it's about Amoled displays...
Muayyad Zohair Al Mulla That is true. Simply not enough colors.
Andrea W. Reynolds The Nexus 4 is a better device than the iPhone 5 at a smarter price point.
Andrea W. Reynolds Apple reminds me of a whiney toddler... Always up in arms when things don't go their way.
Anthony Evans Jr he is apple CEO why do you think he said it? Cook is just angry that his company is losing and he cant deal with it
Yaqub Risley My Note II looks amazing in comparison to my roommate's childish Fisher Price looking iPhone 5.
Danu Carrión Perales well its the worst according to him yet the iphone uses the same screen a $10 digital photo frame from radioshack uses... what a dumbass
Jozef Sakac It might be awful to Apple but at least its bigger
Brandon Riesenbeck I'm very happy with my GS3 display. Cook is full of it.
Christopher Robin Linde Last I checked, Apple buys their displays from Samsung. So by extension, Apple is garbage.
Jose Pablo Islas That's strange, the one I own doesn't seem awful at all...but if Apple tells me it is, then it must be lol
Sänjé Maharjan And to think the only company that got retina displays in their Macbook Pros right are actually made by Samsung.
Jacob Washburn I'm confused, doesn't apple get almost all hardware from samsung? lol
Lowell Orlando Richmond LOL retina is BS...and this is KNOWN from optometrists
Nick Oberly Well it's not true so I suppose none of this really matters.

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