updated 01:10 pm EDT, Wed August 3, 2011
A6 processor seen as key
Apple will begin trying to merge iOS and OS X into a single platform in 2012, projects Jeffries analyst Peter Misek. The reasoning is that it would provide Apple with better profit margins, and simplify licensing content. "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 the device currently being used," the analyst writes.
"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," he continues. The lynchpin is expected to be Apple's next mobile processor, presumably called the A6, which should initially ship with 2012 iPads and iPhones. Misek, however, sees the chip being built into MacBook Airs in the second half of 2012, or else at some point during 2013.
The difference is that the A6 is predicted to be a quad-core processor capable of "PC-like strength." MacBook Pros and Mac desktops are forecast to hold onto OS X and Intel processors for a while for the sake of compatibility, but are still expected to switch to iOS by 2016.
While Apple has merged elements of iOS into OS X Lion, the company faces a number of obstacles if it wants full integration. These include building support for both Intel and Apple processors into the codebase, as well as ensuring compatibility with software and peripherals people are familiar with. iOS has also been criticized for lacking the flexibility and customization of the Mac OS, particularly for professional work. Similarly, A-series chips may still be too slow relative to the CPU/GPU combinations on state-of-the-art Intel-based systems.