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Apple's hire of Adobe CTO foretells move toward iOS-OS X hybrids

Gregg Keizer | March 22, 2013
Apple's hiring of Adobe's former CTO Kevin Lynch opens some intriguing possibilities for the company's future moves, analysts said today.

Moorhead believes that Apple will press forward on a 64-bit, multi-core ARM processor design that packs enough horsepower to both run iOS apps and decode Intel instructions to run OS X software on the chip, a necessary move if Apple, as Moorhead has posited before, merges its two product lines.

"I can see Apple designing a super ARM chip to move up the stack [to the Mac], to remove Intel," said Moorhead in a 2012 interview with Computerworld The benefits: A single development environment for mobile devices and traditional Macs, and putting hundreds of thousands of mobile apps on the Mac platform.

"Lynch reporting to Mansfield sends a statement that Apple is going to include a lot of his experience in the next generation of hardware," Moorhead said today.

Others were piqued by Apple's hire, and saw similar -- although much less radical -- possibilities.

"We don't have to be as drastic as thinking the OSes will merge," countered Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Gartner. "But there is more synergy between software and hardware that has to happen at Apple. The two go hand in hand."

Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research was with Milanesi on this one.

"I've never bought that [iOS and OS X must merge]," said Gottheil today. "Macs are Macs, there's no need to mess with the Intel processor there."

Instead, Gottheil saw other value to Apple in Lynch.

"The cloud is where Adobe has been leading application developers," he noted. "Apple could use some of that creativity in the cloud. Their [offerings] are kind of boring and repetitive."

One possibility, said Gottheil, was Apple's interest in Lynch for his work at Adobe on its development platform. Adobe, faced with resistance from Apple and others against its Flash technology, has been shifting to HTML5 development.

"Maybe Apple wants an HTML5 development platform, where Adobe has been playing," Gottheil speculated.

Moorhead, however, was adamant that Lynch's arrival signaled more, saying that Apple was probably working on a long-term project -- two to three years is typical in processor design, he said, citing his experience at AMD -- to create silicon that would power a hybrid device able to run both iOS and OS X software, and be the first of a hardware line that continued to blend elements of both as Apple slowly downsized from two operating systems to one.

In that regard, the move would be somewhat similar to the strategy that rival Microsoft has espoused, a single kernel for Windows on the desktop, on tablets and on smartphones.

"I can see something like the [Microsoft] Surface, or a priced-down MacBook running this," said Moorhead of his prediction of Apple's plans for the Mansfield-Lynch partnership. "It could be a hybrid product in between the iPad and Mac."


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