I remember a really cool anecdote about an intern, who was bragging to the management of a pharmaceutical corporation he would be able to double the sales of their shampoo without any costs. Of course, no one believed him (or her), but the idea was very simple and effective. He said the company should simply put a "Wash twice" instruction to the back of the bottle, making people consume twice as much of it. The sales probably didn't double, but it's still a brilliant idea.
What about Apple? It's obvious that the low priced iPads 2 will be eating into the sales of the new iPad 3, since a lot of people will go for a second hand, cheaper version of the still capable-enough iPad 2. But by offering the possibility to merge two iPads into a single unit, Apple could prevent some of that effect, lowering the supply of the old iPads. Not only that, they could identify a totally new group of potential consumers who would buy the new iPad 3:
- current: the people who don't own a tablet
- current: the people who already own an iPad or a different tablet and will switch because of the iPad 3
- new: people who already own an iPad, but don't feel the need to update to iPad 3 (like me)
This third group of people is who we are after, by offering them another added value to buy the new iPad without making them sell the old one. Owning two iPads at once? Why not.
Benefits: real multitasking
While the iPad and most other mobile devices support software multitasking, having more applications opened and one on the screen isn't real multitasking for the user. Split screen apps could solve this issue, but the screen size isn't that big. What would be better than having two apps on two iPads, with copy-paste and other cross-functional support? Like combining books and notes?
Real multitasking on two integrated iPads, using the iBooks and Notes.
Benefits: the book mode
We've already seen quite a few promising prototypes of book-shaped tablets, but I'm not sure if any of them made it to production. As shown on the second mockup, which displays different mailboxes in a TweetDeck type-of form on the first, and the emails on the second screen, this kind of use could prove itself very much useful.
Mailing like a pro: mailboxes on one screen, emails on the other.
Benefits: the laptop mode
At this point, the iPad is still not a full replacement for a personal computer, because of its hardware and software limitations. But it does support remote desktop connections to a computer, behaving as a terminal. Very cool, but not that useful, since it's hard to control a computer using a touch screen. By integrating two iPads into a laptop, we suddenly receive a keyboard and a trackpad, making such tasks much easier. Add a few more features to the iOS, and you could have a full replacement for a laptop. Something similar to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer or the Acer Iconia laptop concept?
Combining two iPads into a fully working laptop.
Hardware: Easy. Something similar to the current magnetic sleeve which would hold the two iPads together. A cable wouldn't be needed, since connectivity could be done by wifi or bluetooth.
Software: Hard. Enabling one iPad to become a server and another one to become a client, being able to access and control the apps of the other.
Merging two iPads wouldn't be easy and probably not as useful as imagined in the mockups, since the user experience and controlling would have to be completely reinvented to support dual screen mode. Besides, if you would combine the iPad 1 (around 700 grams) and the iPad 2 (around 600 grams), you would get a 1,3 kg beast. Not very promising, but still not perfectly useless (the current 13' MacBook Air weighs 1,35 kg).
But the idea surely does hold potential. There could be even more interesting uses of such an installation, I've only outlined a few of them. So
Steve Tim, if you like the idea, feel free to make it work. I would be more than happy to test out the MacBook Pad concept with the complementary iPad 4.
Special thanks to betmenka for lending me her iPad 2 despite being in a real hurry.