According to a 2014 report by the analyst at J.P. Morgan Apple is working on an "iAnywhere" initiative — a combination Mac OS X-iOS platform that would let iDevices function as full fledged computers. I think that makes sense (though I think it will be at least two years down the road), but several folks disagreed with my theory that, eventually, Apple will combine OS X and iOS.
"While not a new idea, our global tech research team believes Apple could be on the cusp of introducing a new category with iAnywhere, a converged MacOS-iOS operating system that allows an iPhone or iPad to dock into a specially configured display to run as a computer," J.P. Morgan Analyst Mark Moskowitz said. "In our view, this category would be a leapfrog event, potentially jumpstarting iPhone and iPad growth as well as peripherals and cloud-based software and services sales."
The J.P. Morgan team said it believed Apple could introduce iAnywhere within the next 12 to 18 months (and it hasn’t happened, according to their timetable). Interestingly, the research group thinks the company would still maintain Mac OS X for traditional Macs, Moskowitz says.
J.P. Morgan thinks "iAnywhere" could be a stepping stone to a broader peripherals and services-led sale, partially reducing Apple’s dependence on device-led product cycle. Apple could make money by selling "specially configured displays, iAnywhere-capable iPhones or iPads, and cloud-based software and storage services," according to the research group.
Rod Hall of J.P. Morgan thinks that a new "iAnywhere" product that could serve as an alternative to the company's pricier MacBook lineup. Such a device could reignite growth among Apple's iOS devices and drive further market share gains, he says.
The ability to dock a device such as an iPad isn't a new one. Apple filed a patent (number 7,684,185) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office as far back as 2006 for an integrated monitor and docking station. The patent is for a portable computer (see the graphic below).
The docking station would includes a display and a housing configured to hold the display in a manner that exposes a viewing surface of the display to view. The housing defines a docking area configured to receive a portable computer. The docking area is at least partly obscured by the display when viewed from the viewing surface side of the display at an angle substantially orthogonal to the viewing surface.
Regarding a merger of iOS and OS X, don't expect it to happen soon. But I still think it will happen eventually. And if it doesn’t happen (and that’s fine), the operating systems will still borrow features from each other to make them work ever more seamlessly together.