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Why can't the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro just merge? Here's what Apple says

iPad mac merging denial
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has shot down any possibility of the iPads and Macs ever merging, even as the two product lines seem to get closer and closer together.

Even though the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 has features that even the MacBook Pro doesn’t have, you shouldn’t expect it to end up with macOS anytime in the foreseeable future. 

This information comes from an Independent interview with Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing and Apple senior vice president John Ternus. 

In the interview, Joswiak not only confirmed that there are no plans to merge the iPad and Mac into a single product line-up, he also denied that the two are in direct competition with each other.

“There’s two conflicting stories people like to tell about the iPad and Mac. On the one hand, people say that they are in conflict with each other. That somebody has to decide whether they want a Mac, or they want an iPad," said Joswiak. 

“Or people say that we’re merging them into one: that there’s really this grand conspiracy we have, to eliminate the two categories and make them one.”

It’s strange to hear that comes from Apple, especially since the company has marketed the iPad, in particular the iPad Pro, as a laptop killer. In fact CEO Tim Cook even went so far as to ask “why would you buy a PC anymore?” when the iPad Pro first launched in 2015.

Though Cook said that the iPad Pro would be a replacement for a laptop or desktop “for many, many people,” not everyone. In other words iPads and Macs are supposed to sit side by side, ensuring there is some sort of Apple machine for everyone.

Cook even said at the time: “I think it clearly creates some cannibalization — which we knew would occur — but we don’t really spend any time worrying about that, because as long as we cannibalize ourselves, it’s fine.”

The only thing that's changed are the features

ipad pro

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

While that was five and a half years ago, the same points still ring true today. Especially now that the iPad Pro runs on the same Apple M1 chip as the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and comes with a mini-LED touchscreen. Meanwhile existing MacBooks still use LCD displays without touchscreen support.

Back to the present day and Joswiak’s comments have been mirrored by Ternus. He said: ““We don’t think about well, we’re going to limit what this device can do because we don’t want to step on the toes of this [other] one or anything like that. We’re pushing to make the best Mac we can make; we’re pushing to make the best iPad we can make. And people choose.

“A lot of people have run both. And they have workflows that span both – some people, for a particular task, prefer one versus the other.”

In other words, Apple’s priorities still haven’t changed over the past half-decade. The iPad is always going to be the iPad, and the company’s various Macs are going to be Macs. Just like how Apple has repeatedly denied any possibility of macOS and iOS combining into a single unified system.

There may be a lot of blurred boundaries between the two, but the branding is going to stay pretty distinct. Plus, until we see a touchscreen arrive on a MacBook, iPad Pros will always have their place in that strange middle ground between tablets and laptops. 

Tom Pritchard

Tom covers a little bit of everything at Tom’s Guide, ranging from the latest electric cars all the way down to hot takes on why Christopher Nolan is wrong about everything. Appliances are also muscling their way into his routine, which is a pretty long way from his days as Editor at Gizmodo UK. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.