Now that Lion on your Mac looks just like iOS on your mobile device, Apple is now considering dropping its desktop and laptop software in favor of a single OS platform based on apps and the cloud. The idea has so many advantages, an OS merger is likely to begin next year.
The iCloud service will be at the core of Apple’s unified theory, allowing users to logon to a device and have their apps and content be tailored to the iPhone, iPad or Mac. Already, an A6 quad-core processor is in testing, the first cpu capable of powering both mobile and desktop machines, according to Jeffries analyst Peter Misek.
“Users want to be able to pick up any iPhone, iPad or Mac (or turn on their iTV) and have content move seamlessly between them and be optimized for the user and device currently being used. We believe this will be difficult to implement if iOS and OS X are kept separate,” Misek tells investors.
The transition will likely begin in 2012-2013 for most users, the analyst believes. By 2016, a 64-bit ARM processor will be available to include high-end professional devices. Misek expects the merger of iOS and OS X will increase Apple’s margins 25-125 points as costs of materials and research and development falls.
But there are likely to be other advantages.
As the migration to HTML 5 continues, everything essentially will become an app able to be accessed either wirelessly or offline, the analyst says. Naturally, this will excite app developers who want to write for one huge Apple device market.
The switch could also boost iAd, as ads could speak to all Apple users, rather than be split amongst iOS and Mac OS X users. This unification is already touched on in iOS 5, allowing iPhone and iPad users to sync without direct connection to a Mac.
We’re skeptical this is going to happen starting next year, frankly. An A6 SoC isn’t going to cut it. However, we imagine this analyst is right in the long run: OS X and iOS will merge, and Apple will start using custom-built ARM chips in all of its products as soon as they can manage a 64-bit ARM processor. Within the next five years, the difference between a Mac and an iPad is going to blur.