It seems as if there's always some discussion of an Apple hybrid device going on. Perhaps it's a MacBook Air with a touchscreen that boots into iOS. Or maybe it's a supercollider smashup of iOS and OS X. Why does this discussion even start?
First of all, I think that it's a lot easier to conceive of some kind of merger without knowing what the technical difficulties would be years after iOS branched from OS X. Or the market impact. If a famous Apple developer were to write a technical article, perhaps 10,000 words, explaining all the ins and outs of merging iOS and OS X, we could all learn something and go from there. But for an everyday columnist to just throw out the idea and hope that tens of thousands of readers will jump on the bandwagon and bring pressure to bear on Apple is ridiculous.
With regard to a dual OS, not a merged OS, the speculation often focuses on a standard 13-inch MacBook Air. However, when the display is removed from the hinges (or maybe not) it boots up as an iPad. That sounds pretty nifty, in a geek-snort kind of way, but the concept hasn't been terribly popular in the PC world, I don't think it will be any more popular in the Apple world.
I don't see Apple trying to satisfy one small market with two very popular products. I don't see Apple trying to risk any kind of decline in Macintosh sales. I don't think the price point would be very favorable. I think this would be viewed as a desperate attempt to bring back the keyboard to iPads, and the comparison to the Microsoft Surface would be quick and brutal. Finally, I believe that Apple wants the iPad, as the quintessential tablet, to evolve naturally. The company has a good thing going, and hybrids smack of retrograde motion -- even if the company has protected its flank with an alluring patent.
Consider. iOS is derived from OS X and could, in principle, have multiple user accounts. The reason Apple doesn't do that, I surmise, is that it wants each person to have their own iPad. If iPads could be shared in a family, that would adversely impact sales. The same idea, of course, applies to hybrids.
I just don't see hybrids of any kind in Apple's future, and I think Macs and iPads will evolve in a natural way, serving the needs of the respective customers in the best possible way. That's why I believe that the mythical 12.9-inch iPad, if it arrives, will remain a pure iPad.
Tech News Debris for the Week of January 27
On the 30th anniversary of the Mac, I saw something nifty and saved it. We love doing comparison charts, but they're generally with modern products, often from different companies. Here's a comparison chart that spans 30 years: the original 128K Mac vs. a modern 27-inch iMac. "1984 Macintosh vs. Today's Apple iMac: Spec Showdown." Very cool.
"The age of the iPod is over." This article takes a sensible look at the demise of the iPod's age of dominance. However, the article suggests, and I also believe that iPods will be around for awhile for various reasons: jogging with something really lightweight, use in older cars that have only a 3.5 mm jack, music in secure government areas that don't allow iPhones and gifts for kids too young to have an iPhone. Nothing ever dies completely, and so long as Apple can sell a few million a year, there may be a continuing market for at least one model. But, yes, I agree. We're generally done with iPods.
The next article has a similar theme, but the title is more dramatic. Steven Rosenbaum's thesis is to follow the advertising money to understand the future of conventional TV, and he's probably right that broadcast TV is in trouble. What with the age of the DVR, people skipping commercials routinely, it makes sense for advertising dollars to go where no DVR can. This will likely fit into any thinking by Apple. That is, we can forget about seeing any kind of interface to the DVR, as Google tried with the original Google TV. So let's follow the money: "Why Television Is Dead."
I don't even want to think about what this means in terms of the quality of broadcast TV in the future. Wait! Is it any good now? (Well, there is NCIS and Castle.)
Supply chain rumors have suggested that Apple may be working on a 12.9 inch iPad. The current top of the line iPad is called iPad Air. Therefore, the thinking goes, Apple will release an iPad Pro. But will it just be a larger iPad? Or will it be a new kind of animal? Federico Viticci at Mac Stories covers just about every conceivable scenario. Stuff to ponder: "Thinking About An iPad Pro."
I'm bringing up this next subject because we're constantly looking to the future and what new technologies will come along. In some circles it's thought that robot companions may assist with computational chores, relieving us from some customary tasks we do on Macs. Another scenario is assisting the disabled. In any case, a lot of the money being spent on robot research is in the government nowadays, and that raises questions about how future robots will behave.
We are not at all assured that intelligent, highly mobile robots with human-like characteristics will be built to comply with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics. And so, a question like this must surface. "Should a robot decide when to kill?"
Finally, I just can't get enough of the new Mac Pro. Here's another extensive review fron Dave Girard at ars technica, this time with a specific viewpoint. "A pro with serious workstation needs reviews Apple’s 2013 Mac Pro."
Teaser image credit: Apple
Killer robot via Shutterstock.