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Will Apple Copy Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro With Convertible OS X Tablet?

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Though Apple had repeatedly denied that a laptop running OS X with a touchscreen would lend to a good user experience, a recent patent filing may indicate that the MacBook-maker is exploring similar hybrid convertible form factors that Microsoft OEMs have been experimenting with since the launch of Windows 8. The patent shows a laptop design with a detachable display–not unlike Samsung’s ATIV Smart PC and Smart PC Pro–and includes wireless charging.

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The patent submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office was discovered by Apple Insider and shows that the laptop’s touchscreen display can be detached and removed and that the configuration can be recharged wirelessly through the use of inductive charging, similar to the Qi protocol that’s gaining momentum in the market today. At least the hybrid part of the concept would be similar to Microsoft’s own Surface Pro hardware.

It’s unclear if Apple will ever commercialize such an idea. Under the leadership of late co-founder Steve Jobs, Apple had brushed off the convertible form factor in the past, stating that the more power-efficient and powerful iOS software was great for a tablet experience while OS X is reserved for desktops and tablets. In terms of tablets, Apple leans towards the touchscreen for input and says that its predictive touch input keyboard is perfect for the job while at the same dismissing touchscreens for laptops as the company says that it would slow down workflow as consumers would have to move their hands too far away for the keyboard. Instead, it opted to implement touch and gestures through its capacious trackpad.

Critics of touchscreen and hybrid form factors have been hard on Microsoft’s Windows 8 and its OEM partners. CNET‘s Scott Stein and Dan Ackerman suggest that the platform is losing its value and luster as Microsoft had implemented steep price cuts at its retail stores.

However, the cuts may not be due to consumers losing confidence in the hybrid form factor, but may be be more a matter of technology’s rapid change. With Intel’s new chipset slated for new machines later this year, price cuts may be warranted to move old inventory before new systems can be introduced in the future. Moreover, given that Microsoft’s full-desktop OS and its Ultrabook-class specs have to compete against a $500 iPad or $330 iPad mini, prices begin to look a bit high on these touch-based hybrid systems.

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

6 Comments

  1. Larry

    04/05/2013 at 12:47 pm

    If Apple wanted to blow the Surface out of the water, all they would have to do is offer the Macbook Air with Windows 7 Pro.

    Apple was wise in keeping touch on tablets and keeping it’s productive models keyboard and mouse.

    Microsoft went off into left field with both Windows 8 and Surface. They compounded the error by offering RT.

    Lots of solutions to problems that don’t exist. Lots of compromises to essential functions.

    The world does not take kindly to cross species breeds.

    Mules are not as popular as donkeys or horses.

    Convertaplanes never made it as cars or airplanes.

    Amphicars never made it as boats or cars.

    You don’t take a Swiss Army Knife to a knife fight (twice!!).

    Apple focused and is winning the tablet game. All it would take for them to do the same for ultrabooks would be to offer Windows 7 Pro (not WINDOWS 8)

    • capo

      04/05/2013 at 1:15 pm

      and yet there are latins mixed with hispanics, mixed with neagers mixed with caucasians..humm, and talking about horses, surface pro is a horse and ipad a mule! lol bing!

  2. cdev

    04/05/2013 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve been using the surface for about a week. I think once people use it, they will love it. I do!

  3. Curtis Quick

    04/05/2013 at 6:07 pm

    I have been using a Surface RT for four months and found it to be wonderful. Just last month I got hold of a Surface Pro and found it to be awesome as well – the stylus is great for note-taking. While the RT competes well on the tablet side with tons of features iPad owners only dream about, the Pro is hands-down the best laptop replacement out on the market today.

    Those who are not Surface fans have much to worry about. Much FUD has been written about the RT and the Pro in an attempt to keep people choosing either model and in many ways it has worked. Sadly, Microsoft has not helped by strongly limiting distribution options to protect their partners.

    Nevertheless, just about everyone I know who carries around a laptop and a tablet is eager to consolidate and carry just one device that has the power of a laptop in a tablet form factor. Eventually this pent-up customer desire is going to find fulfillment in a Surface.

    • PV

      05/04/2013 at 7:59 am

      Oh, I’m not sold on windows 8. But I’m playing with a Surface Pro right now. Its perfect for most everything – except they’ve crippled the pen with graphics programs not made by Microsoft. That’s a no-no and deal breaker for me.

  4. Jia

    04/05/2013 at 6:47 pm

    If they did that, they’d be making Microsoft a ton of money through Windows 7 licensing. And the ultimate swiss army knife of consumer tech is the Smartphone, which at the beginning merged a crappy phone with a crappy camera with a crappy PDA on a crappy OS. Now look at it.

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