JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz has a weird report on the future of Apple this morning.
In his report, he acknowledges that Apple’s growth has hit a wall. Revenue was up 6% in the holiday quarter. If Apple hits the high end of its revenue guidance for this quarter, then sales will be up 1% on an annual basis.
Moskowitz blames the slow down on the iPhone and the iPad. The market for the iPhone is getting saturated, and the “iPad has not stepped up to become the next growth chariot.”
Even if Apple releases a bigger iPhone as is expected, Moskowitz says it won’t move the needle much. People that want big smartphones bought Samsung phones. A bigger iPhone might be a hit with iPhone users, but a bigger screen alone isn’t enough to inject growth back into the iPhone line.
So, Apple needs something to get itself cranking once again.
What could it be? An iWatch? An Apple TV?
Moskowitz doesn’t mention either of those. Instead, he comes up with something totally different: iAnywhere.
What is iAnywhere? It’s a converged operating system, much like Microsoft tried to make a converged operating system with Windows 8. Windows 8 is has a touch based tile system, and a traditional desktop environment under it. Moskowitz vision isn’t quite the same, but it’s similar.
“While not a new idea, our global tech research team believes Apple could be on the cusp of introducing a new category with ‘iAnywhere,’ a converged Mac OS – iOS operating system that allows an iPhone or iPad to dock into a specially configured display to run as a computer,” says Moskowitz, adding, “We expect Apple to maintain a separate Mac OS for traditional Macs.”
How would iAnywhere generate growth for Apple? It’s somewhat unclear. Here’s Moskowitz’s explanation: “In our view, iAnywhere could be the stepping stone to a broader peripherals and services-led sale, partially reducing Apple’s dependence on device-led product cycles.”
So. What do we make of this? Frankly, it seems unlikely.
We expect iOS to evolve to fit new product categories like iWatches and Apple TVs. We don’t expect it to evolve to work as as desktop computer.
Apple SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller recently talked about the idea of converging mobile and desktop devices. Here’s what he said, “It’s not an either/or. It’s a world where you’re going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don’t have to choose. And so what’s more important is how you seamlessly move between them all… It’s not like this is a laptop person and that’s a tablet person. It doesn’t have to be that way.”
At the same time, Craig Federighi, who leads Mac (OS X) and iPhone/iPad (iOS) software engineering said, “The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn’t because one came after the other or because this one’s old and this one’s new,” it’s because the Mac “has been honed over 30 years” to work for keyboards and mice, while the iPhone has been honed for five years to work for touch.
And last fall, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “Our competition is confused. They’re turning tablets into PCs and PCs into tablets. Who knows what they’re going to do next?”
It’s possible these are giant headfakes, or highly nuanced answers. It’s possible that in the fall Apple rolls out some sort of converged operating system. There have been reports of Apple releasing a 12-inch iPad. There have also been reports of Apple releasing a new laptop that redefines laptop computing. So, it’s not inconceivable it’s thinking about something.
However, these are fairly strong responses from Apple’s top executives. They don’t seem to be all that interested in doing a converged operating system. Apple seems to be most interested in creating great, purpose-built experiences.
As Cook once said, “you can converge a toaster and a refrigerator,” but it won’t please anyone. Odds are very much against Apple releasing its own toaster-fridge OS called iAnywhere.