There's a difference: Cook was asked at a conference call. Unless specifically asked, no one at financial conference call mentions the competition. For one thing, as Ballmer and Dell have proved time and time again, it is a great opportunity to say things that prove to be so very very wrong and are quoted as forum signatures forever more.
If I see another sig saying 'What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders'....
No, do not mention the competition unless asked.
Secondly, he didn't say it would never work. He said he hadn't used one but from what he'd read...
a tablet of both compromises and confusion
The Verge said:
Instead of being a no-compromise device, it often feels like a more-compromise one
... the design of Surface might not give the best experience.
which is quite ironic as Microsoft had said they'd designed the surface 'without compromises'. The problem is that for Microsoft 'no compromises' means 'stuffing everything in' and Cook doesn't believe that is necessarily the correct way to look at product design.
Tim Cook said:
I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don't think it would do all those things very well.
Which is not to say that it won't work. I think the tech crowd will love it.