Perspective: iPad and the keyboard -- getting inside Apple's head

Noted analyst ponders whether Apple could out-Surface Microsoft, concludes it will do so only if it thinks the category is ripe

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How Apple handles 2-in-1s would be pure speculation, said Bajarin, but a drastically revamped Smart Cover -- Apple's name for its iPad cover-slash-prop -- that boasts a physical keyboard would be a start.

On Saturday, a former member of Apple's developer relations team claimed that associates still in the company told him that a full-sized iPad case that mimicked Microsoft's Touch Cover had been prototyped. Prototypes are a dime a dozen, and do not indicate intent, only curiosity. But Bajarin thought Apple could run with the idea.

"Apple could develop a whole host of new types of laptop/tablet combos that could be tied to their rich ecosystem that is already pretty much cross-platform, and deliver some rather innovative and powerful mobile computing devices in the future," Bajarin said on his website.

But again and again, he returned to the one stumbling block in the strategy laid out by those who have called on Apple to leap into 2-in-1s: Apple's motivation. As a long-time student of the company, Bajarin kept reiterating his premise, that historically Apple only climbs into the ring when it felt the time was right, no matter what others, including himself, argued.

"They've only jumped in when they thought companies doing this weren't doing it proper," Bajarin said.

And whether Apple thinks that is impossible to know until it shows proof in public. Boasts by pundits aside, no one's a mind reader. Especially when it comes to Apple.

"Does Apple go to school on this, or do they reinvent around existing form factors?" Bajarin asked. "I don't know."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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