Rumors are swirling that Apple is considering the release of a 12.9″ iPad Pro capable of running OS X, perhaps via dual-boot with iOS. As with all such rumors, details are sketchy–would this be the same OS X as runs on the Mac, or some kind of hybrid OS?
Personally, I think it’s highly unlikely that Apple would release such a product–as much as I like the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft has had to make some compromises in terms of battery life, performance, and thermal management, not to mention the operating system and how it works on a tablet/ultrabook hybrid. Simply put, I don’t think Apple would be ready to make such compromises, and I don’t know that OS X could even run on an ARM processor. The devil is definitely in the details on this one.
If Apple did produce such a machine, however, I think it would be their death knell. They’d essentially be conceding the market to Microsoft by validating Microsoft’s vision without its advantages. Microsoft is building one OS that will run on all kinds of devices, and to my knowledge Apple is nowhere close to such a thing–this would be simply slapping OS X on the same device that runs iOS without any kind of optimization (unless Apple has secretly been working on such a thing without a single leak, for years). Whether Microsoft will succeed in executing their vision remains to be seen, of course, but for Apple to make such an attempt would be suicide.
I already see Apple becoming the same niche player they used to be, only at the high end and far more profitable. That’s a fine business model for them. But putting OS X on an iPad would be admitting that we’re not really in a “post-PC” world after all, and that the iPad really isn’t sufficient for getting real work done (which isn’t true, depending on the kind of work that needs doing).
I’m going to go ahead and say that this is a false rumor. Apple’s approach has been to keep OS X and iOS completely separate (while migrating some iOS features, like full-screen apps, to OS X), and to use Continuity as the glue that binds them together. That seems to make the most sense for Apple at this point. If Apple does release a dual-booting iPad Pro running OS X and iOS, though, then I’ll feel even stronger about Microsoft’s vision–assuming they can carry it to fruition, of course.
Update: Meant to add that Apple has already made some concessions to market pressure by releasing the iPhone 6 Plus in response to competitors like Samsung’s Note product line. I just don’t think they’ll go so far as is currently rumored…
Update 2: A recent report suggests that Apple might release a touchscreen MacBook Air at their upcoming October 16 event. Given how strongly Steve Jobs was against touchscreen notebooks, essentially calling them unnatural (he said they’d result in “gorilla arms”; he was wrong, of course), this would be another significant reversal by Apple, if true. I don’t believe this rumor either…