Well this is an interesting theory.
It’s common knowledge at this point that Apple needs to come out with something new if it wants to boost sales in the face of an increasingly saturated smartphone market. Its primary business driver—the iPhone—can’t carry the company forever, and the iPad has failed to become the next big thing that would takeover for the iPhone when the smartphone market peaks.
There may or may not be a bigger iPhone on the horizon, which…meh. It’s been done. It’s did. Let’s move on.
But J.P. Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz has a different theory: he and his research team believe Apple is working on a new converged Mac OS/iOS platform that they’ve dubbed iAnywhere.
If this sounds like Windows 8, that’s because it sounds exactly like Windows 8…
The idea is that you would be able to dock your iPhone or iPad into a specially configured display and use them as you would a computer. Moskowitz admits that it’s not a “new idea.” Windows 8 has been widely panned as a non-intuitive, unnecessarily complicated, difficult-to-use disaster. And several PC makers, including Samsung and Asus among others, are attempting to revitalize sales by producing hybrid PCs capable of running two operating systems, such as Windows 8 and Android, layered on top of one another. Asus’ dual-OS Transformer Book Duet is expected to ship in mid-2014, while Samsung’s Ativ Q is expected to ship soon as well. Moskowitz notes that Apple will likely keep a separate OS just for Macs.
Why exactly would Apple do this? As far-fetched as it seems, it does make a certain amount of sense. A converged OS could be a stepping stone to a broader “peripherals and services-led sale.” Coming up with new devices is time consuming and costly, and sometimes they flop, but content and services are fairly reliable and less cyclical in nature.
“Apple could generate revenue through the sale of specially configured displays, iAnywhere-capable iPhones or iPads, and cloud-based software and storage services,” wrote Moskowitz in a research note.
Moskowitz notes that the last two iPhone releases have resulted in shorter growth spurts compared to the multi-quarter growth new iPhone releases used to enjoy. Clearly, high-end smartphones are reaching a saturation point, and Apple has shown that it’s clearly not ready to make the great leap forward into the low-cost market. The “next big thing” could be iAnywhere…which would be pretty depressing.
“We think Apple potentially leveraging its devices and software to converge mobility and computing can be a game-changer product category,” wrote Moskowitz. “The growth arc in iPhone is flattening out, and iPad has not stepped up to become the next growth chariot. With replacement cycles elongating and competitive pressures likely increasing, we think iAnywhere could provide Apple a leapfrog event ahead of the competition.”