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Air meets iPad

A report claims anecdotal evidence of the 11.6-inch MacBook Air eating into iPad sales. Is that what Apple means when it says the MacBook has met the iPad?

A report on Friday claimed "anecdotal evidence" of the 11.6-inch MacBook air cannibalizing the iPad. Hmm...so, is that what Steve Jobs meant by iPad-meets-MacBook?

MacBook meets the iPad.  Either-or buying decision?
MacBook meets the iPad. Either-or buying decision? Apple

This research note came to me Friday from Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw. "Signs of cannibalization: There is anecdotal evidence that the MacBook Air is cannibalizing the iPad. A fully functional notebook in a very attractive form factor may be resonating more with consumers than a content consumption only device."

That "content consumption only device" being the iPad, of course.

So, is this what happens when the iPad meets the 11.6-inch MacBook Air? Consumers walk away with the MacBook instead?

If only slightly true, it's an interesting twist on a trend that's actually going in the other direction. Nvidia believes next-generation Android tablets will obviate the need for traditional laptops, as tablets become more adept at multitasking and begin to approach the processing power of low-end laptops.

And hybrids make this argument seemingly irrelevant. The Windows-based Dell Duo fuses a laptop with a tablet. If that kind of design proves popular, who needs a boring, old traditional laptop?

For now, the smaller MacBook Air looks and feels a lot like an iPad with a built-in keyboard. Until we're well into 2011, we won't know who's cannibalizing whom. But my money is on the tablet doing the devouring. With the iPad leading the way.