Just when things were looking perkily perfect for Apple, out comes a stink bomb. No Mac OS X Leopard in June, as expected.
Instead, Apple plans to release Leopard in October. Why? What happened? What problems were behind the dramatic announcement?
Apple’s official story is basic math. Resources needed on Mac OS X Leopard were busy working on the iPhone, which Apple says will ship, as expected, in June.
As you might suspect, this little bomb is both good news and bad news, expected and unexpected, the end result of a company with resources stretched in too many directions at the same time.
Look at what Apple has accomplished in both hardware and software in the past 24 months.
On the hardware side, there’s been a complete revamping of the iPod line, top to bottom. The end result is that Apple’s lead in the portable music space has grown.
Apple’s entire Mac line has been moved off the FreeScale and IBM PPC chips to Intel chips in a transition that could only be described as stunningly successful.
In barely a year, Apple has revamped all their hardware products, including the highly touted Airport Extreme, and managed to launch a WiFi iPod for your TV; also known as AppleTV.
And there’s that effort to deliver a product where Apple has little experience—iPhone.
I’m not setting the stage for a pity party or a collection of excuses; it’s just the facts. Resources can get stretched. That’s just the hardware side of the company.
Apple’s software efforts over the past 24 months have taken a similar path to complete change, from OS X Tiger to iLife and iWork updates, to AppleTV, and the iPhone effort.
Tiger was launched 24 months ago and since then the Apple software development crew has worked on all the above, OS X Leopard, AppleTV, and iPhone, the latter two containing their own versions of OS X inside.
For awhile there were rumors that OS X Leopard might ship in March or April, though we discounted those as idle, slow news day, speculation. Now Apple says Leopard won’t ship in June, as expected. Wait for October, four months later.
Why? Officially, it’s iPhone’s fault, but there’s more to it than that. Apple is stretched thinner than the US Army in Iraq. For the most part, all has been going well for the Cupertino Cool Company—until now.
It’s likely that Apple has known for a few months that Leopard wouldn’t make the June launch date, despite efforts to the contrary. What’s been the reaction publicly? Pretty much, “meh.”
There was the obligatory blip in the stock price, then analysts tagging the stock as a “buying opportunity.” For the rest of us, it’s a disappointment, but not a trend. Yet. If iPhone is delayed, then maybe there are other problems the secretive Steve Jobs isn’t telling us about.
Gene Munster, Apple’s favorite guy at Piper Jaffray, wrote to investors:
Financial gobbledygook from Shaw Wu was equally obscure yet optimistic regarding Leopard’s delay:
Is the blame falling on resources, iPhone, or slow development of the so-called “secret features” in Leopard. Apple says #1 and #2, Mac360 says #3, followed by anything else.
I would rather see a very healthy Mac OS X in October than a buggy Leopard in June. Now we know why there’s been no noise about the “secrets” in Leopard, right?
The secrets that Steve Jobs wouldn’t tell us last year will show up in the pre-release version given to Mac developers at the World Wide Developers Conference in June, so we’ll have four months to salivate over even more ultra coolness. All will be forgiven.
But don’t let it happen again, Steve. Give me my Apple TV. Give me updates to iLife and iWork. Give me an iPhone. Give me all new Macs and iPods. And give me a new version of Mac OS X. Oh, and can I have it all now, please? I don’t want any more bombs like this.