Let’s Play a Little Game Called, “Would You Buy?”

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We know that Apple is continuously prototyping and testing all kinds of different products, both new and variations on existing ones. While we will never see the vast majority of these experiments, it is interesting to think about what could be. You can pretty much assume that anything we have thought about that is within Apple’s product umbrella has been at least drawn up, if not built to some level of completion. I’m going to occasionally be asking you about some likely experiments that Apple has dabbled with, and ask you the question- “Would you buy this?”

First up is a potential product that comes up somewhat often and is a lightning rod for controversy thanks to Apple’s strict divide between iOS and macOS. I want to know, would you buy an iOS device in a MacBook body? I’m talking about a full touchscreen 11″ or 13″ iPad Pro speced device with Pencil compatibility, but in a MacBook form factor with a fully integrated keyboard.

There are plenty of particulars and compromises that would have to worked out for such a device. First off, would Apple stick with USB-C exclusively, or add Lightning for charging? Maybe both? I think that one could go either way.

Next up is the issue of the touchpad. We all know that the MacBooks have some of the best touchpads in the business. Would Apple dare to add support to iOS and the iPad, or would this device stick to touchscreen only and ditch the MacBook’s touchpad? I personally think that a device like this without a touchpad would be more likely.

As for the iPad’s Home Button, that is rumored to be on its way out the door on the iPad Pro anyway, so I highly doubt it would find its way into such a product. If you have used a Bluetooth or Smart Connector keyboard with an iPad Pro, then you already know that the Home Button wouldn’t be necessary with one permanently attached. Between keyboard shortcuts and touchscreen gestures, we would be completely covered without it

As for me, I would definitely buy one of these devices. I use a Logitech Slim Combo keyboard case with my 12.9″ iPad Pro almost exclusively. In fact, I’m using it right now to type this article. One thing I really like about this particular keyboard case is that it is light and not too thick. This is a common drawback of many keyboard cases that come with a quality keyboard. I know because I have put up with several of them that turn an iPad into a boat anchor over the years. An iPad Pro in a MacBook form factor would suffer no such issue. It would put all of the utility and versatility of the iPad Pro in a more useful form factor for people like me.

Another big positive for power users would be battery life. With more space for a bigger battery combined with the iPad Pro’s efficient processor, you can bet that this hybrid device would be able to outlast current iPad Pros. While my 12.9″ Pro is certainly very capable, when you add a constantly used backlit keyboard drawing power from the Smart Connector, battery life takes a noticeable hit. For someone like me, the extra battery life of a hybrid would bring just a little more independence.

Add in LTE, which is already available on iPads but is unlikely to ever come to the Mac, and you have a very versatile machine that powers up instantly, has great battery life, and is always connected. I understand how unlikely it is that any of this will come to the Mac, and that is a big reason why I want people’s opinion on this iOS hybrid device first. Apple is making the vast majority of its money on iOS and hardware that runs it and its cousin OSs (watchOS, tvOS, and the new HomePod variant of iOS) , so it is natural that the company is also putting most of its development resources there, as well. That is why I think this hybrid device is far more likely to see the light of day than a touchscreen MacBook, as unlikely as it may be.

So, would you buy an iPad Pro/MacBook hybrid? I would love to know either why or why not. What would you use it for? How much would you be willing to pay for it? Do you think it would sell, or would it just be a niche item for iPad fans like me? Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.


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12 thoughts on “Let’s Play a Little Game Called, “Would You Buy?””

  1. Something like this could be my ideal device with only two further adaptations.

    1. If the keyboard were detachable
    2. If iOS could have further development of a file system. I like the “files” app but I do wish it could be more “finder-like.”

    1. Wayne- The issue with the detachable keyboard is that it would require a major chassis overhaul and the device would have to be thicker and heavier. Take a look at Microsoft’s Frankenstein Surface Book for evidence of this. Their new Surface Laptop is FAR more practical because it drops this capability.

      There are existing products, like the Logitech keyboard case that I use, the ZAGG Slimbook, and Apple’s own Smart Keyboard that make a Keyboard detachable from the iPad and case. The use case for an iPad in a MacBook body is adding the keyboard without sacrifices in size or how good the keyboard is.

      While I disagree that a split design is feasible, in a perfect world, it would be a killer device if done right. I just don’t think it’s practical. But this is all just conjecture over a device we will never see anyway, so why not push the limits?

      I totally agree on your second point. Files is a good start, but Apple would need to fill in more blanks to add power to make this an even more stand-alone computing experience.

  2. No – I wouldn’t buy this.

    A) Is it a better iPad? not really. I use my iPad in tablet mode a lot and so having it permanently attached to a keyboard isn’t helpful. I use a bluetooth attached Magic Keyboard and this set up generally works well. I use with the keyboard about 25% of the time.

    B) Can it replace my Mac and be my one go to device ? Definitely not at present. There are too many frustrations and limitations in iOS for me not to need both a Mac and iPad.

    Things that might appeal are a Bydge like keyboard – addition of a trackpad – more software enhancements.

    1. Colin- I understand your reasons, and many users will share one or both. I couldn’t use an iPad Pro for my job , either, and will likely never be able to. But for me, this actually would be a better iPad. That’s going to be a subjective thing that depends on the individual user.

      However, there is a growing number of people who don’t need a Mac at home or for basic office tasks. For them, a device like this could be a lower-cost way to handle basic computing. Maybe if Apple made a 10.5” version with specs between the iPad Pro and the iPad, but with the MacBook body and integrated keyboard, they could price it as a middle tier offering. That is an open spot in their product lineup right now.

  3. I have a Mac Mini, an 11” MacBook, and a 9.7” iPad Pro. I recently purchased a Brydge keyboard case for the iPad and I have not used my MacBook Air since. The only thing I can’t do on my iPad is rip DVDs/CDs and scan photos -but of course I can do that on my Mini. Further – since it is easy to remove my iPad from the keyboard (unlike the kind that basically form a clamshell around the iPad) – I can switch back and forth between laptop and tablet.

    So – yes – I think a lot of people would buy what essentially would be Apple’s real answer to the Microsoft Surface.

    1. Matt- What if the keyboard were not removable? What about an iPad literally in a MacBook body, which would be more like a Surface Laptop than the Surface?

  4. Jason Snell has written precisely about this in recent weeks in MACWORLD and his own site. I agree: I’d love to see a (detachable or wraparound-hinged) keyboard with touchpad.

    I’ll go a step further. Given that the latest A-series chips offer power similar to current low-end Macbooks, without doubt Apple’s skunkworks have iterations of a Mac App Store-only, A-series-based Macbook. And given that current developer coding requirements aiming for processor-independence, this would allow for a processor transition (ranginf from painless to painful, deppending on app) if implemented as an option to the Mac line.

    Now imagine Apple wanting to (a) transition more people to the App Stores (for security, and of course profit) as well as offering a more substantial reason to migrate to iOS. Start with lower-end Macbooks that run recompiled MAS-only Mac apps as well as all iPad apps. Then imagine them pricing it the exact same as current Macbooks (with their own technology and not paying Intel their margins would probably be higher). iPad buyers would go for it without question. Students would go for it if they could use needed apps/services. Everyone else would have to make a calculation based on available MAS apps, but with enough sales (and an easy enough transition for developers) it could be very doable.

    – Macs would even more be ‘trucks’ in Steve’s analogy.
    – A-series Macs would augur a transition, offering more revenue options for Mac developers inside the MAS, and offering more compelling reasons for those currently outside it.
    – iOS’s touchscreen/pencil advantages would complement the multitasking advantages of the more mature MacOS.

    1. Chip- I’m a big fan of Mr Snell, so I will have to check that out.

      I understand where you are going, and I think such a machine would be a hit with Apple fans, and would probably bring new users in, as well. I just don’t think Apple will go there under the current leadership. They have macOS in “mature maintenance mode,” and iOS is getting all of the R&D time and money. That is why I proposed an iOS device here rather than a Mac. I just think it’s more likely than the alternative. I’ll probably do one of these posts for a touchscreen Mac in another week or two, though. I know a LOT of Apple fans want this.

      1. Re Apple keeping Macs in maintenance mode: First, Mac sales increased 7% in holiday quarter (compared to the previous year’s quarter) according to IDC. (And in the quarter previous to the holiday quarter they sold 5.4 million Macs.) Second, they earn around $24 billion/year in revenue from Macs alone – that’s higher revenue than iPads.

        So I would not be surprised if Apple decided to partially eliminate the Intel tax (and therefore increase margins), increase App Store revenue (while persuading more developers into the MAS), give buyers more reason to buy iPad Pros and offer a more secure and locked-down Mac experience for schools/businesses/newbies. It would enable Apple to keep the MacOS in a maintenance mode, albeit with a new semiconductor. For close to the same price as the current iPad Pro (more, or even less) Apple could offer the best of both Mac/iOS worlds.

        If they did this I’m positive they’d keep the touch interface to iOS, and with MAS Mac apps they could enforce this.

        1. Understand that, when I say “maintenance mode,” I am not suggesting that Apple will kill off the Mac. I just think that the Touch Bar proves that the platform isn’t getting primary talent and resources at the company. They will add features and keep making them, but I just don’t see the current leadership taking the Mac beyond that.

          I was happy to see the reports that Mac sales are up. That should keep the platform alive and well, at least. However, while Mac sales may be bigger than the iPad currently, they are dwarfed by iOS sales overall. That is why I think it’s more likely that Apple will spend their R&D time and money on the iPad. I honestly believe that they see iOS as their primary OS of the future, and that everything is moving in that direction right now.

          Again, I personally think what you are suggesting is a great idea. I just don’t think Apple will do it. And to be fair, I don’t think they will release the device I’m proposing here, either.

  5. I would prefer the ability to detach the tablet from the keyboard, because sometimes it’s just easier and/or more comfortable to use a tablet. However – and this is a big however – when in full “laptop” mode – I want something I can actually use on my lap (much like I’m doing right now with the iPad Pro attached to the Brydge keyboard). I don’t want some flimsy thing that can only be used on a hard, flat surface.

    1. That is often the big issue- the balance between portability and stability. That’s exactly why I propose an iPad Pro in a literal MacBook body. You can get the ability to separate the iPad Pro from a keyboard with several existing cases, as you said. I am advocating for this hybrid device because it would be better for those of us who want to use the keyboard all the time with iOS.

      Such a device would be rock-solid stable in the lap. The ability to separate the sections would result in the device being bigger, heavier and less balanced. This is the reason Microsoft now has a touchscreen Surface Laptop. The Surface Book is a mess.

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