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Apple may have a 2-in-1 in the works

Matt Hamblen | June 3, 2015
Some analysts see a need for Apple to further integrate a keyboard with the iPad.

Windows 2-in-1 Surface devices in 2014 shipped about 10.9 million devices, or 4.6% of the total tablet plus 2-in-1 market. Dell, Lenovo and others are making 2-in-1's as well as Microsoft. About 67% of the total market in 2014 was Android, compared to 28% for iOS, IDC said.

Because the growth rate for 2-in-1s is expected to be relatively small, some skeptics doubt Apple will produce a 2-in-1, at least not in the vein of Microsoft's Surface.

Still, Bouchard's and Reith's conviction that Apple will have a 2-in-1 in 2015 was matched -- somewhat -- by some other analysts. Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, believes some kind of 2-in-1 will eventually come from Apple.

Apple was reported to have developed a prototype internally of a large tablet, Moorhead said. "A large tablet would need some kind of stand for it to sit on, maybe even a keyboard, which you could technically call a 2-in-1," he said. "I think they will eventually productize one, as I believe a product category exists between a MacBook and an iPad."

Moorhead noted that consumers have been "gobbling up" third-party keyboards that double as cases for iPads, he added. "There's user demand [for a 2-in-1 at Apple] but I think there's a usability requirement for some kind of iPad stand, not just one designed and built by partners, but [by] Apple," Moorhead added.

"I don't see the Apple keyboard as permanently attached, but I envision something which does detach, but is integrated with the right Apple keys and backlighting," Moorhead added.

Bouchard said Apple might provide its own keyboard for the rumored larger iPad -- to sell in the box with the iPad or as an option. "It might make sense to announce that at WWDC, along with an update to iOS that that allows for multiple apps to run at the same time," Bouchard added.

Of course, it might be wrong to call this expected Apple 2-in-1 an actual 2-in-1, at least as Intel would define it. "There's little difference between a tablet with a keyboard and a 2-in-1," noted Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "Is the Surface Pro a tablet or a 2-in-1? Could be either."

Gold said Apple probably wouldn't directly market any such product as a 2-in-1, while adding, "it certainly has the equivalent with a high-end iPad and a keyboard."

Part of the reason Apple might not use the 2-in-1 moniker is that competitor Intel has primarily driven the 2-in-1 concept with |several TV ads| ( featuring comedian Jim Parsons that promote the devices as having "the power of the PC and fun of a tablet."


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