We suspected it was coming, just not this soon, if one analyst is correct. Jefferies & Co. pundit Peter Misek says in a note to clients — as reported by “Barron’s” (http://macte.ch/ptohm) — that Apple will begin combining OS X and iOS as soon as next year.

He says that combining the two would lead to “synergies,” including better gross margins and an ease in licensing of content. In particular, Apple customers would be able to then experience TV shows and movies and such, stored in the company’s “iCloud,” across phone, tablet, or, eventually, Apple television, and get the same licensed content.

“Users want to be able to pick up any iPhone, iPad, or Mac (or turn on their iTV) and have content move seamlessly between them and be optimized for the user and the device currently being used,” Pisek tells clients. “We believe this will be difficult to implement if iOS and OS X are kept separate … We believe Apple is looking to merge iOS (iPhones/iPads) with OS X (Macs) into a single platform for apps and cloud services starting in 2012-13.”

Specifically, Misek sees the Macbook Air gaining Apple’s next processor, the “A6,” as he calls it, in the second half of 2012, or some time in 2013, following the debut of the chip in the “iPad 3” in the first quarter of 2012, and in the “iPhone 5” next summer. He predicts that Mac desktops and MacBook Pros will stay with the current software and Intel (INTC) processors in order to maximize 64-bit application compatibility, but that they, too, will switch over to an iOS/OS X hybrid platform by 2016.

Technically, it might not be too difficult. iOS is an offspring of OS X. And OS X Lion implements several iOS features, specifically those of the iPad.

— Dennis Sellers