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

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

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

    You've just described an ASUS transformer with less flexibility (vis. without the ability to undock). Why would anyone want that?

    Furthermore, my suspicion is that Apple will not produce an equivalent to the Transformer out of fear of what such a device might mean for sales of the Macbook Air.
    • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

      @dsf3g .
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    I'm sure this wouldn't work for the general masses. An iPad2 + keyboard, your looking at $750 ($700 for ipad2, $50 for keyboard). You could get a regular laptop for $500 which has the screen and keyboard together and allows for better performance as well as more versatile. This idea would be a complete non-starter.

    [i]plus on how much attention his little rig gets in public.[/i]
    I don't think its the kind of attention his little rig wants. People are looking at him confused of why he would get a tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

      @Loverock Davidson- the price of the iJunk pad 2 is $799 just to get the equivalent capacity of a low end netbook. So you'd be spending close to the cost of two Windows Laptops.
      • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

        iJunk, I see what you did there!! Very clever!!
      • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

        @Stephen-B iJunk 2 huh? Do I, or anyone else capable need to pull up sale figures of the "iJunk 2"? kthxbye!
      • iPad starts at $499, and they serve different purposes. [nt]

        • RE:iPad starts at $499, and they serve different purposes. [nt]

          Actually it starts at 369
    • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

      @Loverock Davidson-

      The iPad2 starts at $500, not $700.
    • No they won't...

      [i]"People are looking at him confused of why he would get a tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop."[/i]

      No they won't. Most people will see a stylish and cool looking gadget, then ask if the keyboard helps because they also have an iPad.

      The only people wondering why he didn't get a laptop are people for whom the iPad doesn't meet their requirements. For everyone else, the iPad does what they want just fine.
  • Personally, I would like to have a wired keyboard...

    Not the BT models available. I would like to be allowed to use the kb on a commercial aircraft, if I desire. I'm ok typing on the screen, but can type faster on a physical kb.<br><br>Apple used to offer one, but it wasn't designed for travel and I had read user feedback that it could damage an iPad 2. The only other one I found online was from a no-name manufacturer without any customer feedback.
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    If price is your only argument for this not to happen, I would think about it twice.

    Apple would end-up having the real thinnest and lightest laptop in town. Add this to the excellent battery life and you have a winner product. Would it cost more than competing products? Yes, sure it would. As do most Apple products today. And they sell very well indeed.
    And using this vector to initiate the transition to a unified OS wouldn't be a bad idea at all. Sooner or later Apple will take this unified OS route. The competition has already started...
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    I agree with you James. It's unlikely that Apple would ever have a laptop (or desktop) computer running iOS.<br><br>iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7 (Metro) and the applications that run on them, are all designed for multi-touch interaction. A keyboard, either hardware or software, is needed for text input, but most of the interaction is by using your fingers on the screen.<br><br>Another good reason for not making an ARM iOS laptop is that you would not be able to run any of your existing notebook/desktop applications on it (this concept has been lost on Microsoft's plans to have ARM tablets running Windows 8 ;-)).<br><br>It would be pointless to port iOS to run on laptops with Intel processors, as this would not only be expensive to do, but your Intel applications would remain as they are now, and you would only be replacing the Finder with the iOS multi-touch interface.<br><br>There has been talk of Apple going in the other direction and porting Mac OS X to run on laptops like the MBA, with ARM processors. But this would mean that none of your current Mac applications would be able to run on it. And no one wants to wait for, for example, a full version of Photoshop for ARM to be produced by Adobe (if they ever would do this), and then have to pay for Photoshop (and all of your other applications) all over again.
    Harvey Lubin
  • I would prefer

    a keyboard case that has a means to swivel the iPad to portrait mode when engaged in extended text entry. That way I could see more of the page at once.
    • Easily done....

      Targus and Kensington do them. The Kensington is much better made tho' the return key is rather small. There are also keyboard docks with arms to allow vertical or horizontal docked charging.
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    It won't happen because Apple see physical keyboards and laptops as very much belonging to the desktop Mac OS paradigm.

    It's one of the costs of having Apple hardware/software work so well together, the inflexibilty in choice. Compare that to Windows or Android with it's wealth of choice, where such systems for both platforms already exist.

    As another user has said, the Asus Transformer is already a tablet plus keyboard to make a laptop. Which is a full size keyboard plus trackpad.
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    I could see a Apple Laptop with iOS running in an emulator. Imagine having all those Apps to run on your laptop. It would close the circle for anyone who has invested in a lot of Apps.
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    Isn't that a Macbook Air with Lion ?
  • RE: Coming, an iOS laptop? I'm not so sure

    I knew this would happen! As soon as the market got saturated with enough iPads and tablets, someone would get the bright idea to add a keyboard. If these people felt more comfortable with a keyboard on the iPad, then that is because they had no business with an iPad in the first place. I think it would be absolutely ridiculous to couple an iPad or tablet with a keyboard or even run a laptop with iOS. It takes away from the purpose of the device. If you are going to do that then just get a laptop and be done with it. But to truly utilize the purpose of the tablet or iPad, I think you have to leave the keyboard off. IF the average consumer had any sense at all, they would know that iPads and tablets are not PC/Mac replacements and would stop trying to use them in that capacity. These devices were created for entertainment, games, accessing the web, email and other quick mobile tasks. They were never meant to be used to write your thesis or do your taxes on - get your laptop or desktop for that so you can at least save your work on your hard drive. You can't save anything on an iPad and space is limited on a tablet so why go there? Apple produces laptops and desktops so I seriously doubt their purpose for creating the iPad was to replace the laptop. I think it would be a huge MISTAKE to put keyboards on these devices. I believe that is where Palm went wrong with the Palm Pilot because they did the same thing. People tried to live their lives on the Palm and didn't know how to properly use the PDA as an assistant. In trying to help the consumer happy, Palm made keyboards for the Palm and suddenly, the devices lost the zest they once had. Face it - Laptops and desktops are here to stay - they aren't going anywhere anytime soon. But every now and again, consumers enjoy a slight deviation from the norm, but to enjoy that deviation, you have to keep it separate and keep it simple. An iPad is not a laptop and it cannot perform as one so don't try to make it one. Same with the tablets - they are not meant to be used that way. It does not have the power, software, or memory to do the things that your laptop or desktop was built to do so people please stop trying to reinvent the wheel.
    Gadget Girl