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Tim Cook explains why a hybrid Mac/iPad device would be bad for users

Published Apr 19th, 2018 8:00PM EDT
MacBook Vs Surface
Image: thanat sasipatanapa

Despite the success Microsoft has enjoyed with the Surface Book, Apple has no intention of creating a hybrid tablet-notebook device anytime soon, if ever. Hardly a surprise, Tim Cook a few years ago famously said that the Mac and the iPad would never converge because such a product would result in a number of tradeoffs that would adversely impact usability.

“Anything can be forced to converge,” Cook said during an earnings conference call in April of 2012, “but the problem is that the products are about tradeoffs. You begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn’t please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but you know, those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user.”

Six years later, Cook is sticking to his guns. During an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald following Apple’s recent education-oriented event in Chicago, the Apple CEO essentially doubled down on his statement from a few years back.

When asked about the well-delineated divide between the Mac and the iPad, Cook responded:

We don’t believe in sort of watering down one for the other. Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible. One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well. And if you begin to merge the two … you begin to make trade offs and compromises.

So maybe the company would be more efficient at the end of the day. But that’s not what it’s about. You know it’s about giving people things that they can then use to help them change the world or express their passion or express their creativity. So this merger thing that some folks are fixated on, I don’t think that’s what users want.

It’s worth noting, though, that Apple didn’t dismiss the notion of a converged Mac/iPad device out of hand. On the contrary, the company in recent years has researched the feasibility of such a product before coming to a conclusion on the matter.

Case in point: Apple executive Phil Schiller a few years ago explained why Apple wasn’t interested in developing a Mac with a touchscreen.

From the ergonomic standpoint we have studied this pretty extensively and we believe that on a desktop scenario where you have a fixed keyboard, having to reach up to do touch interfaces is uncomfortable. iOS from its start has been designed as a multi-touch experience — you don’t have the things you have in a mouse-driven interface, like a cursor to move around, or teeny little ‘close’ boxes that you can’t hit with your finger. The Mac OS has been designed from day one for an indirect pointing mechanism. These two worlds are different on purpose, and that’s a good thing — we can optimize around the best experience for each and not try to mesh them together into a least-common-denominator experience.

In short, it’s a safe bet that a hybrid Mac/iPad device from Apple will never see the light of day.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.