Apple says it’s not going to happen, but I think we’ll see a tablet running Mac OS X within two years. Why? The decline in annual tablet shipments reached double digits for the first time on record in 2015, according to TrendForce. A Mac tablet (the MacPad?) could re-invigorate sales for Apple.
The global market research firm’s latest tablet shipment report shows a total of 168.5 million tablets shipped last year, representing a 12.2% drop from 2014. The gradual contraction of the global tablet market has become a more pronounced trend.
“The saturation of the tablet market, the long life cycles of tablets themselves and the abundance of substitute devices were major factors that contributed to the large shipment decline,” says Anita Wang, notebook analyst for TrendForce. “Tablets were challenged by many large and small devices during 2015, from smartphones sized 5 inches and above to 2-in-1 PCs. Their demand diminished as a result.”
The problem isn’t the hardware. The iPad Pro’s A9X chip is beefy enough. The problem is that iOS simply isn’t nearly as good at multitasking as OS X. For example, it doesn’t support overlapping, movable, resizable windows from multiple apps.
In a Techpions article, Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw, a technology research and consulting firm, agrees the iPad Pro is hampered by its reliance on the traditional iOS and suggests a special, modified version of the operating system for the super-sized iPad. His idea is that the “podOS” would be targeted more toward multi-tasking and wouldn’t be a “touch-first” operating system.
If that’s the case, why not simply release a tablet with OS X that’s been updated with touchscreen support? This would offer the best of both worlds (OS X and a touch screen) on a Mac tablet that could easily double as a laptop by attaching a future generation version of the Smart Keyboard.
The MacPad could replace the iPad Pro if Apple wanted to keep its product line a bit simpler. iOS would still be the mobile operating system for the iPhone, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPod touch with its variants, watchOS and tvOS, running on Apple Watches and Apple TVs.