“Undeterred by Apple’s pronouncements regarding ‘convergence’ of mobile and traditional PC devices, Neonode, a Swedish company, has designed the AirBar,” Mark Hibben writes for Seeking Alpha. “AirBar attaches to the bottom of the screen of a 13-inch MacBook Air to give it touch screen functionality. Even AppleInsider has called the experience ‘oddly satisfying.'”

Hibben writes, “It was back in November that Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing took to the Internet to explain and justify Apple’s refusal to endow Macs with touch screens. As reported by Backchannel, he had this to say:”

“We think of the whole platform,” he says. “If we were to do Multi-Touch on the screen of the notebook, that wouldn’t be enough – then the desktop wouldn’t work that way.” And touch on the desktop, he says, would be a disaster. “Can you imagine a 27-inch iMac where you have to reach over the air to try to touch and do things? That becomes absurd.” He also explains that such a move would mean totally redesigning the menu bar for fingers, in a way that would ruin the experience for those using pointer devices like the touch or mouse. “You can’t optimize for both,” he says. “It’s the lowest common denominator thinking.”

Apple came to this conclusion by testing if touch screens made sense on the Mac. “Our instincts were that it didn’t, but, what the heck, we could be wrong – so our teams worked on that for a number of times over the years,” says Schiller. “We’ve absolutely come away with the belief that it isn’t the right thing to do. Our instincts were correct.”

“I think Schiller is absolutely wrong. In fact, I think the whole issue of accommodating touchscreen mode on a large monitor is a red herring, for the following reasons,” Hibben writes. “No operating system, whether Microsoft’s Windows 10, or Google’s Android 7, that implements both touch and pointer driven interfaces forces the user to use one or the other exclusively. So Schiller’s statement about users of a 27-inch iMac being forced to use touch on the large screen doesn’t make any sense.”

“A properly designed macOS system that supported touchscreens would always allow users the option of using a mouse, touchpad or keyboard,” Hibben writes. “When I encounter that kind of transparently flawed rationalization, all I can think is that Apple is adrift without adequate product leadership. In this case, all Apple’s management can do is steer by the original guidance of Steve Jobs, who declared touchscreen notebooks ‘ergonomically terrible’ when the iPad was first introduced.”

“What I found interesting about AirBar is the fact that there is no change to the macOS user interface whatsoever. AirBar essentially acts like a giant trackpad overlaid on the screen. The mouse cursor simply goes to whatever point on the screen is touched. It’s that simple,” Hibben writes. “It’s really hard to believe that Apple worked ‘for years’ on this problem, only to conclude that they were right all along. I’ve seen this phenomenon before. Management goes through the motions of considering an alternative to the current policy, often making a big show of it. But the outcome is a foregone conclusion, because management has already made up its mind.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hibben lists several reasons why Apple’s management might have come to a foregone conclusion, but one stands out: “Touchscreen Macs would cannibalize sales of the iPad.”

Apple brass seem to have convinced themselves that the iPad is the PC/Mac replacement for 95% of personal computer users today and, by Jobs, they’re sticking to it regardless of flashing neon signs to the contrary – even as they inexplicably fail to update iPads for Christmas and in the face of ever-declining iPad sales. We’ll be very interested to see what Cook & Co.’s plans are for iPad and, of course, for the Mac in this coming year.

Here’s an idea: Apple could sell iPad Pros as they do now, and for those wanting a “Mac,” Apple could sell them the macOS-powered display-less keyboard/trackpad/cpu/RAM/SSD/battery base unit. Attach your iPad for the display and off you go, you Mac-headed truck driver! Plus, you get to use the iPad’s battery, too, extending battery life to provide a truly all-day battery for portable Mac users. Detach the display and you get your iOS-powered iPad back, same as always.

Too outside the box? We’d love to be able to take our 12-inch iPad Pro, mate it with this theoretical Mac base unit, and turn it into a portable Mac. Right now, we carry 12-inch iPad Pros and MacBooks in our backpacks. Guess what’s redundant? Right, the displays. We don’t need to carry two screens on the road. The iPad Pro’s screen would do just fine, thanks.

Buy the Mac base on its own (for those who already have 12-inch iPad Pros) or buy it as part of a package (get a new 12-inch iPad Pro at a nice discount when you buy it with the Mac base). Imagine if Apple had unveiled this headless MacBook that you use with your iPad at their iPad event this past fall. What would the narrative about Apple be like versus what it is today? With such a product, would Apple have missed its revenue and profit goals for the year, causing Tim Cook and other high-level Apple executives to have their compensation cut? How many more 12-inch iPad Pro sales would such a product have generated? Enough to return iPad to unit sales growth, we bet. And, how many more Macs would have been sold, too?

As for touch:

To us longtime Apple watchers, Cupertino seems to be saying, “Multi-Touch on the screen only when trackpads are not part of the device.”MacDailyNews, November 19, 2008

Does it make more sense to be smearing your fingers around on your notebook’s screen or on a spacious trackpad (built-in or on your desk) that’s designed specifically and solely to be touched? Apple thinks things through much more than do other companies. The iPhone’s and iPad’s screens have to be touched; that’s all they has available. A MacBook’s screen doesn’t not have to be touched in order to offer Multi-Touch. There is a better way: Apple’s way. And, no Gorilla Arm, either.

The only computers using Multi-Touch properly, using device-appropriate Multi-Touch input areas are Macintosh personal computers from Apple that run OS X (and Linux and can even slum it with Windows, if need be) and iOS even more personal computers (EMPCs), namely: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and iPad mini.

Note that none of this bars a “MacPad” from production. Any iOS-based iPad would become a high quality display (possibly still “touchable,” but likely not due to the reasoning stated above) when docked into a “MacBook” (running OS X, and providing keyboard, trackpad, processor, etcetera). Such a convertible device would negate having to carry both an iPad (car) and a MacBook (truck) around. They’d be one thing, but able to be separated into two, each providing the best capabilities of their respective form factors.MacDailyNews, May 4, 2013

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

Anyone in the market for a 12.9-inch device that’s an OS X-powered MacBook when docked with its keyboard base and an iOS-powered iPad when undocked? — MacDailyNews, October 7, 2014

Illustration from Apple's hybrid Mac-iPad patent application

Illustration from Apple’s hybrid Mac-iPad patent application

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