One of the significant differences between Apple's and Microsoft's tablet strategies is that Apple kept their computer OS separate from the tablet, while Microsoft tried to offer one OS across the platform. Given the billions lost by Microsoft while iPad is the tablet standard, it's not hard to guess who won and why. Tablets were not ready to run a desktop OS. Only now are they getting even remotely close.
But, if the rumors are true, Apple might be moving into the realm of a desktop OS on its tablet. DigiTimes recently ran a report claiming Apple's 12-inch tablet, which is apparently back on for a 2015 release after Apple killed the program earlier this year, may feature an operating system that integrates Mac OS and iOS.
DigiTimes cited rumors in the upstream supply chain, and since it's based in Taiwan, it does have a lot of connections into that industry. But DigiTimes is also notoriously hit or miss with its rumors, too.
The publication said sources in the supply chain say that Apple has two 12.9-inch tablet prototypes in development: a 2-in-1 device and a regular tablet. The device is rumored to be expected to enter mass production in early 2015.
Here’s where I am skeptical. First, a 12.9-inch 2-in-1 could be a MacBook Air, but there's one problem: the Air comes in either 11.6 inch or 13.3 inch designs. Apple has no 12.9 inch devices, and the company doesn't like to have too many SKUs. They could always axe one of the other sized devices, of course.
And then there's the fact that this news item would indicate Apple revived a product it cancelled, and I don't recall Apple ever pulling a design out of the trash cab. As I said back in March when Apple reportedly killed the product, the momentum is not toward large tablets, it's toward smaller ones. IDC predicts the future will be dominated by 7-inch devices, and 10-inch and larger devices will slowly fade in popularity in the coming years. So why would Apple resurrect a bad idea?
Finally, porting Mac OS X to ARM would not be a trivial job. OS X is an x86 OS and used on computers. Apple would have to do a complete port to ARM plus change all of the input handling from keyboard and mouse to the touch screen. We've seen with Windows 8 how hard that process can be. Then again, assuming it has been going on, we have no idea how long the porting has actually been taking place.
All that having been said, DigiTimes has been right thanks to its connections to the China and Taiwan supply chain. So I'll file this one under long shot, but possible. We may get a surprise next week when the new iPads are introduced.