OS X and iOS to Begin Merging Next Year, According to Analyst

Aug 3, 2011 - 18 Comments

iOS X Yes, Mac OS X Lion is obviously very iOS-like, and now we’re hearing again that Mac OS X and iOS will begin merging late next year into a single unified OS. This is speculation according to Jeffries & Co analyst Peter Misek, who also suggests the parts of the Mac lineup will be moved away from Intel CPU’s after the introduction of a quad-core A6 CPU.

The speculative report suggests the big changes will start at the end of 2012, and the first Mac to move to an ARM A6 CPU would be the MacBook Air, followed several years later by the MacBook Pro and iMac lineup. Here’s the meat of the post on Barrons:

“We believe Apple is looking to merge iOS (iPhones/iPads) with OS X (Macs) into a single platform for apps and cloud services starting in 2012-13.” Specifically, Misek sees the Macbook Air gaining Apple’s next processor, the “A6,” as he calls it, in the second half of 2012, or some time in 2013, following the debut of the chip in the “iPad 3” in the first quarter of 2012, and in the “iPhone 5” next summer.

Misek thinks MacBook “Pro” models and Mac desktops will stick with the current software and Intel processors in order to maximize 64-bit application compatibility, but that they, too, will switch over to an iOS platform by 2016.

Misek suggests the motivation behind the OS X and iOS merger is for better gross margins and licensing deals, where purchased media content will work on any device and be available via iCloud – although apparently nobody told the analyst this ability already exists now with iTunes.

This really isn’t terribly surprising speculation, and we’ve heard talk of Apple ditching Intel CPU’s before. Also, both iOS and Mac OS X are built upon the same underlying architecture anyway, so merging the two in name wouldn’t be a particularly shocking event. Apple does seem to be easing Mac users into an eventual transition with the introduction of things like Launchpad, fullscreen apps, and other iOS-like features embedded into OS X Lion.

But will a big OS unification happen next year, so soon after Lion’s release? I find that unlikely, just consider how vastly different Mac OS X Lion and the upcoming iOS 5 are in raw functionality and you can see such an event is still years away from occurring. Putting on my own speculative cap (I’m an analyst now too, can I get paid for this?), I think we’ll continue to see Mac OS X releases that are pushing towards iOS simplification all the while iOS becomes increasingly full featured, eventually merging into something like “iOS X” that runs on all Apple hardware. That hardware could be something like the touchscreen iMac that was found in an Apple patent last year, that transitions between a desktop Mac OS X and a touch iOS UI based on the hardwares screen orientation.

If you think this is far fetched, even Steve Jobs hinted at the coming change at the 2010 D8 Conference, speaking with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg he said of the “PC”:

“PC’s are going to be like trucks, they’re still going to be around, they’re still going to have a lot of value [they will just be used by less people], this transformation is going to make some people uneasy… because the PC has taken us a long ways… “

You can watch that part of the interview below if you haven’t seen it:

And it’s not just Apple, even Microsoft is looking to do the same with Windows 8. So long story short, Peter Misek is loosely right, anyone can read the writing on the wall across the entire industry, but it’s not going to be some huge change next year.

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Posted by: Matt Chan in Mac OS X, News, Rumor

18 Comments

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  1. Peter says:

    Of course they’ll merge, what else is new? This doesn’t bother me unless we lose the file system, then I would be bothered. The big advantage of Windows 8 is they created a file system interface for touch, and it works. Apple has to do this before they can merge anything.

  2. mike says:

    not all good news , I think. together with dropping the server hardware (except for the mini), the doubtful future of OS X server (at its new price can they make money or afford to invest in it in the future?) it begins to look to me that Apple and Steve Jobs are betting the farm on consumer devices.

  3. mike says:

    .. and i meant to say, consumer devices for which Apple controls the content, so maybe a restrictive file system that doesn’t for example allow media manipulation except through iTunes. Or maybe I’m just paranoid ;-)

  4. Dimitri says:

    I’d hope that a merger of iOS and OSX wouldn’t strip the current functionality. Some people use their Mac for work like I do. I need the UNIX command line and all the UNIX utilities. If these were to go I’d have to get some whitebox PC and run Linux. That’d be a real shame.

    • Parakeet says:

      You can jailbreak the iPhone or iPad and access the unix command line on those devices, this will always be a possibility for those who need it.

      • Dorje Sylas says:

        It’s not smart to force customers to hack around lockouts to basic functions. Especially when Apple can keep changing the systems to remove those “Jailbreaks”. It’s unstable and not something I’d want to have to deal with as a even a small business IT.

        Considering Apple’s piss-poor management systems for iOS, I’m not sure I’d be supporting Apple computers at my work (a grade school) if that became the case. Even hiding the Library folder will make it harder to do support work. There many times I’ve had to go into Application Support and replace/restore critical items for 3rd party programs.

        Locking IT out of those tools is bad, bad, bad, bad.

    • Simon Othen says:

      why should we have to jailbreak why cant apple provide a pro interface for those that want it

  5. Alan says:

    Since when do investment analysts get to speculate about where Apple is going with there technology? All they can do is draw trends lines past what has already occured leading to this dumb idea. The Mac isn’t a hand held device – I’m looking at a 27″ iMac right now and much of what works on my iPad doesn’t even make sense on my big screen. These guys need to rewatch the WWDC ’11 Keynote and pay attention this time – especially to the slide about the desktop getting demoted to just another device (psst. not transformed into a handheld!)

  6. Dmitry Dulepov says:

    Architecture is very similar but not the same. For example, key frameworks are different. Also iOS does not allow new frameworks. This last bit, of course, may change but I do not think framework differences between iOS and OS X will change. It would invalidate all apps for one of two platforms, thus, not going to happen.

  7. Parakeet says:

    This is what OS X Lion is, a transitionary OS. The next OS will be even more transitionary, until the merge of the two. There isn’t much reason to keep them separate if they become equally capable.

  8. G Johnson says:

    First they came for the mainframes,
    and I didn’t speak out because I had moved on from mainframes.

    Then they came for the minis,
    and I didn’t speak out because I was way past minis.

    Then they came for the workstations,
    and I didn’t speak out because I had eBayed my desktop,

    Then they came for my laptop,
    and I had an appliance, but no computer.

    With apologies to Martin Niemöller.

  9. Name (required) says:

    No.

    No no no no no!

  10. Jesse Sykes says:

    I think we may have to wait for iOSXI.

  11. Alberto says:

    Mac is dying…

  12. @Alberto re. ‘Mac is dying’…have you looked at year over year unit sales growth for the iMac/MacBook/Pro line lately?

    The technology is several years from convergence. There are many professionals – including designers at Apple, that use workstations. If you look at what Steve said about the PC, he never said it would go away.

    What’s much more likely is that the capabilities of iOS devices will approach the 80/20 boundary. That is – they will provide 80% of the functionality people need from a PC. At this point, only developers, designers, scientists, professionals will be buying Macs/PCs

  13. [...] naujos „OS X Lion“ operacinės sistemos išleidimo internete vėl pradėjo sklisti gandai, neva „Apple“ ruošiasi sujungti mobiliesiems įrenginiams specialiai sukurtą „iOS“ [...]

  14. Irene Kisala says:

    Ah, yes, Barron’s, that bastion of Mac news and rumours.

    Call me when it actually happens.

  15. Patrick says:

    OS X and iOS have already been merging and both are based on the same Darwin core.

    Whether Apple will move from an Intel/ARM mix to strictly ARM processors is the bigger issue. Its unlikely Apple would move entirely to ARM for several reasons:
    * Apple just invested heavily in Intel’s powerful Thunderbolt technology
    * Apple is already in serious litigation with its ARM cpu supplier Samsung.
    * Intel cpu’s can be developed to be as energy-efficient as ARM processors, particularly given Intel already makes the energy-efficient Atom processors.
    * ARM processors technology simply can’t be made as powerful a processor as Intel cpu’s.

    My prediction is Apple moves entirely to Intel cpu’s given iOS apps already run on Apple’s Intel hardware using the iOS simulator in X Code, Apple invested heavily in Intel’s Thunderbolt, and Intel cpu’s are significantly more powerful than ARM.

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