What If the Next iPad, iMac, Business PC and Apple TV Are All One Device?

What If the Next iPad, iMac, Business PC and Apple TV Are All One Device?

How would you radically improve the iPad? You’d give it more powerful processing, enabling more powerful apps.

How would you improve the 27-inch iMac? You’d make it 37 inches.

How would you create an Apple desktop computer for business? You’d make it work like an iPad, but double as a boardroom device for presentations and video conferencing.

And how would you improve TV and make it Applish? You’d build in a computer, Apple TV-like functions and give it a remote.

If you think about it, these obvious improvements are not moving these four product lines away from each other, but toward each other — resulting in a single super product that does it all.

What if Apple’s next iPad, iMac, business PC and TV set are all one iDevice? 

Almost every company in technology evolves their product lines from a starting point of fewer and simpler models to more and more complex ones.

Apple, on the other hand, thinks different. They try (they don’t always succeed) to unify and simplify. For example, they don’t have separate devices for consumers and education, or consumers and business. It’s the same phone, the same tablet and the same Mac.

In fact, no Apple device since the iPod has been exclusively designed for consumers or for business. Every Apple product since the iPhone shipped in 2007 has been designed for both consumers and business.

So when people predict that Apple will ship a TV exclusively designed for consumers in the living room, they’re also predicting that Apple will violate its five-year-old policy.

I think it’s possible that Apple may pull off the Mother of All unifications — to create a giant iPad that serves business people in the board room and consumers in the living room.

Everybody, including and especially Moore and his Law, expect the iPad line to get increasingly powerful processors, more RAM, faster graphics chips. This is simply going to happen. This improved capability will enable better apps, more console-like games, more OS X-like applications for iPads of all sizes.

Apple has to improve the iMac — they’ve already made it super thin and super elegant. Yes, they’ll make it more powerful, too, but what us users really want is a bigger screen. Many of us want Apple to continue adding touch-like user interface elements, as Apple has already begun to do with the Launchpad, better gestures and all the other iOS-like improvements.

Combine these two ideas, and image that the next iMac is a 37-inch iPad. It’s powerful like the iMac, but runs a new, more capable version of iOS. Tilt it back, and it works like an iPad, with multi-touch gestures. Tilt it up, and use a bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad and it works much like an iMac. Talk to it, and it works like an iPhone running Siri.

By now you’re probably thinking of the limitations: It’s not mobile or portable like a real iPad. And it’s not able to run OS X-level desktop applications like the iMac.

So where would someone use such a mutant device?

The answer: in business and in the living room.

The business-desktop iPad

The corporate world, from small businesses to major enterprises, has gone gaga for iOS devices, both iPhone and iPad. They love the hyper-simplicity, visual appeal and the usefulness and flexibility of apps.

But business people of all kinds still need a big screen. Right now, even iPhone- and iPad-happy business people usually use Windows PCs at work — but hesitate to move to iMacs. They want full-size word processing documents and spreadsheets. They want email and web surfing. And they need big screens to do presentations and to bring in remote meeting attendees with video conferencing.

A giant desktop iPad could be used like an iPad or a PC or a presentation screen. It would simply need to be oriented in one of three angles — mostly flat for iPad mode, mostly upright for PC mode or perfectly vertical for presentation and video conferencing mode.

(Come to think of it, such a device would be really great for education, too.)

In order to use the device for presentations and videoconferencing, you’d also want a very simple remote control.

And you know where else you’d want a remote control?

The consumer-TV iPad

The specs on this 37-inch desktop iPad would be the same as any reasonable Apple TV set you might imagine. All you’d need is something similar to an Apple TV box built in.

The ability to do things that Apple TV can do — connect to the Internet, iTunes and iCloud; do AirPlay and AirPlay mirroring; find any HD content anywhere and play it — these are things that both business users would want and consumers watching TV would want.

The current version of Apple TV is $99, so building in these same capabilities would be a trivial expense for Apple.

The naysayers who say Apple won’t make a TV set because it won’t sell enough units haven’t considered that the Apple TV set may also be sold as an all-purpose Business PC and an educational desktop as well, multiplying unit sales.

I think there’s a very real chance that Apple’s next iPad, business PC, iMac and TV set are all one in the same device: A giant iPad that does it all.

Would you buy one?

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  • technochick

    No I wouldn’t. Those ideas are not improvements at all. Just the opposite. Which is why even though could have gone this direction ages ago they haven’t. They get that one device for everyone and everything is the wrong way to go.

    The only thing tthey might do hat is anything like this pile of nonsense is a bigger Cinema Display that might have the appropriate airplay receiver bits in it so you don’t need a separate box for that function. It might even work off adhoc networking. But that’s it and even that is doubtful. More likely would be making it TV compatible with HDMI, appropriate frame rates, VESA mount compatibility etc

  • seelee

    I can’t say that I would, but I WOULD buy a 55-inch iPad for the boardrooms at the office.

  • Gadget

    A 37″ iPad would be an awesome e-reader on the bus

  • dcj001

    Nice try, Mike.

    But this idea reminds me of Tim Cook’s opinion of the Microsoft Surface: No one wants a refrigerator/toaster.

  • Martin Dobson

    I disagree with the larger screen for video based networking or presentations part. Projectors are the normal for boardrooms. Trust me, I’ve installed many. A 27″ Apple Thunderbolt or Cinema display currently goes for $1000, an iMac for $300 more. I’d hate to see what a retina friendly 37″ or 55″ display that has a Mac inside would retail for. However, one can get a HD projector and a Mac Mini already, now you have all the availability for a small to large board room… the power and features of a mac that can integrate with all the iOS accessories that are owned by “iPhone- and iPad-happy business people”.

    I think that what the Apple world needs isn’t larger displays, but instead tighter integration between all the products. We already have some, but think of the possibilities for more. Think about if any iMac on your company’s server recognizes that your iphone is sitting in front of it and suddenly that iMac adjusts itself to all of YOUR settings and customizations. Where you can place a phone call from your phone without using your phone. Facial recognition and fingerprint readings aren’t quite foolproof, nor are they seamlessly user friendly, imagine the NFC/RFID of your iPhone opening up systems for your usage.

    I long for a world where our products get smarter, not larger and thinner.

  • Bob Smogango

    Large panel TVs are being used more and more for corporate and education purposes when hooked up to an Apple TV as it lets users project their presentations through AirPlay from a Apple device (iPhone, iPad, laptop). Only some situations require a projection system. For presenting in front of 10 or so people, a 55 or 65 TV is plenty big enough.

  • branjmb

    A 37″ iPad would be an awesome e-reader on the bus

    ‘officer, i got mugged for my 1500$ tablet.’

  • Gabadoo

    Patience fellas! This wonder product it’s taking a while, but it will be here soon. I can wait because I know it will be a classy product. In the meantime, my current devices can do everything mentioned below with my office and home TVs in a fun way. If Apple packages everything nicely in one product, I’m replacing my TVs ;-)

  • JacksterD

    “An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator…”

  • bdkennedy

    I had a long comment to post but I decided that this article is so stupid and ignorant that I wasn’t going to waste my time.

  • Huntress

    i would buy this in a heartbeat!

  • TylerHoj

    It’s unlikley to happen. Looking into the future of Apple, they are making the iPad smaller and lighter. All Apple products attempt to constrain, they ‘condense.’ You’re using the term ‘iPad’ too loosely to describe touch-capability. Yes a TV with touch would be an asset. It would have the potential to be the next blackboard in schools or the perfect presentation device in the boardroom, but it wouldn’t be an iPad. There needs to remain a portable input device and larger, stand-alone units, to display information. OSX still isn’t touch friendly enough to use your finger to enable content like on an iPad. And the iOS software is clearly meant for smaller devices. A product with a large, physical glass touch-interface is already inferior to smaller optical lenses that can project information. Projection is the future of the physical screen as it can provide you with a 35” television that you can fit in your pocket. Yes, I think we’ll see portables and iPads form into one product in the distant future, but merging a traditionally large device and a traditionally smaller device would destroy the portability, function and purpose of a portable device. You can even look at the new retina display MacBook line for more evidence of the size constraint of Apple products. Apple has removed the 17” product in favour of a smaller, more portable device. Perhaps when Apple has rolled out retina displays in all of their products, and iOS and OSX have reached a point of maturity in which they can successfully be merged without alienating consumers, will we see the introduction of a revolutionary new product that redefines Apple’s ecosystem.

  • GEOKLV

    Hello. Season’s greetings from wonderful Greece. My personal belief is that APPLE is into every screen format. The creation of the iPad mini does not necessarily imply that they are small screen oriented. The convergence of concepts is their goal. And when it comes to the real beauty of it, they seem to be most galant, as well as practical, efficient and prolific enough, not only to meet the consumers’ needs, but to foresee the needs, we consumer’s have as well. When it comes to the integration Mike has described and foreseen, I believe that it is no wishful thinking or just a lab concept. To the contrary, I am convinced that it is a product very near to actual production. It is just a matter of time and timing for APPLE to simply announce it and flabbergast the world one times too many. Whether I would buy such a product: I wish that at some point I will be able to fit such a unit it my budget. Maybe not (most probably not) in the early days; sometime in the years to come.

    Best regards to all. Wishes for health and strength in the year to come. Particularly, many thanks to Mike for his prolific and substantial writing; food for thought as always. Take care everybody. George Kolovos / Athens – Greece

  • DonaldGary1

    Love my job, since I’ve been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I’m making it online(Click on menu Home)
    http://goo.gl/5xsft

About the author

Mike ElganMike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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