Should the iPad become a Mac? (no)


This is Ian Betteridge’s response to Jason Snell’s article on the future of the iPad Pro.

Jason Snell thinks the iPad Pro could run macOS in some kind of virtualized environment when connected to a keyboard and mouse, but I doubt Apple would go that route. They would have to make some major changes to have ipadOS and macOS be more seamless (otherwise it’s too jarring to have two disparate operating systems running on a single device at the same time), but it’s an interesting thought (and the only thing that would make me even consider buying iPad over a MacBook for portable computing).

Ian Betteridge1 says that what Jason really wants is the iPad platform to be more open to get around all the inherent limitations of ipadOS (but doesn’t think Apple would do that—I agree).

My take is: I don’t think any of this is going to happen. If you think about it, why would Apple—who is selling both the iPad and Mac to the same people—want them to instead buy a single device? Sure there’s some people who only buy one, but I suspect the limitations of each platform only help push sales for the other. The two options are:

  1. Sell either an iPad OR a Mac separately (of which many will buy the other at some point in the future).
  2. Sell a single device to both would-be iPad or Mac users.

Option 1 is where we’re at today, with the hypothetical option 2 seeming to make the least business sense to me. The price of 2 could be higher, but it would be a risky bet to sell enough of those to make up for all the people who buy both an iPad and a Mac right now. Some power users would buy both the hybrid device and a MacBook, but I think most customers wouldn’t even consider a MacBook if their iPad did the same thing.

Apple’s always finds a way to differentiate the “Pro” line from the non-Pro models, and that’s a much easier (and more lucrative) problem for them to solve than combining both devices into one.

  1. The same Ian Betteridge that Betteridge's law of headlines is named after. ↩︎