1. Touch Displays: Apple has proven its competence with touch-sensitive interface design through the iPhone and iPad, and OS X already performs admirably on third-party tabletized Macs. With companies like HP and Dell already producing touchscreen PCs, the market looks ripe for a touchscreen Mac.
2. iOS Hybrid: If Apple were to combine iOS and OS X on a dual-mode mobile or touch-screen computer, it would give users the ability to switch between the to operating systems as the use case demands. However, to make it work, Apple would need to devise a reliable way for users to share data between the OS X filesystem and the iOS mode. Dual-mode Android/Windows PCs like the Lenovo U1 have been emerging over the last couple of years, and Apple may be able to capitalize on its whole-ecosystem business model to bring a compelling dual-mode option to market.
3. Dockable Mac: While we're envisioning totally different form factors for the Mac, let's consider the possibility of an iPad-centric computer. The idea of dockable phones and tablets isn't new. Apple has experimented with this approach in the past, but the mobile technology hadn't come far enough to make it worthwhile. Now Motorola's Atrix Lapdock is offering a pretty interesting laptop/smartphone dock system that makes the whole concept look a little more compelling.
4. Gigantic Slate: In a move that would combine all three of the above concepts, Apple could conceivably produce an oversized iPad running either iOS or a dual-mode configuration, built for docking onto a desktop stand. Such a machine would serve as a user's primary desktop PC, while dismounting for trips down the hall to the boardroom. Less a mobile device than a luggable one, a dockable slate in excess of 15 inches would make for a uniquely versatile workplace computer.
Of course, only time will tell whether the current rumor out of Asia bears any resemblance to reality, and Apple is unlikely to respond to the conjecture. But if we're betting on something "absolutely different" from what's on the market today, these four possibilities would be significant enough to catch our attention.
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