Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

Summary:One tech journalist wants to see an iOS laptop from Apple, but I'm not sure that will happen.

Colleague Harry McCracken (Technologizer, TIME, CNET) likes using his iPad with a keyboard so much he wants to see Apple produce a laptop running iOS. He bases that desire on how well the iPad with a keyboard works for him, plus on how much attention his little rig gets in public. While I have expressed a similar contentment with using a tablet and keyboard combo, I'm not sure Apple will produce Harry's iOS laptop any time soon.

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Harry and I each realized how useful the iPad could be when coupled with a keyboard, and separately we explained why it works so well for us. I still feel the same way about my little pseudo-laptop, but I'm not sure the masses are ready for a laptop as Harry describes in a recent article for CNET.

Both Harry's and my work are very similar in nature, so it's no surprise we find the iPad with a ZAGGfolio keyboard case (reviewed here) to be a good solution. While it works well for us, most people currently using laptops have different needs for work than Harry and I, often in the form of particular Windows or Mac software. That won't run on our iPad rigs, nor on an iOS laptop as Harry describes.

An iOS laptop would have to be cheap, really cheap, to make it worthwhile for buyers. An iPad 2 with keyboard is currently around $600, so the laptop would have to be much cheaper than that; otherwise there is no real advantage to the purchase over our iPad/keyboard combos. I like the fact that I can use the iPad 2 as a tablet most of the time, only strapping on the keyboard as needed. An iOS laptop wouldn't have that benefit, so it would have to be cheaper to justify giving up that function.

I understand where Harry is coming from in interpreting public reaction to his current rig as interest in an iOS laptop. Just last week I was working in a Starbucks on my iPad 2/ZAGGfolio rig and noticed there were two other patrons using the same combo. There were actually fewer laptops in use than our iPad systems, so the utility is being discovered by others. That still may not translate into a market for an iOS laptop for the masses.

Analyst Michael Gartenberg (@Gartenberg on Twitter) is fond of (correctly) stating that anyone can sell 50,000 of anything. That would likely be the case with an iOS laptop, but I'm not sure a large enough market exists for one to make it worth Apple's while. It would certainly hurt MacBook sales, and Apple wouldn't want to do that unless the expected market is big enough to make it worth that risk.

What do you think? Would an iOS laptop be of interest to you and why? Leave a comment to get a conversation going about this interesting concept.

Topics: Mobile OS, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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