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Leopard Delayed

April 13th, 2007

So, it’s official. Apple’s Leopard will in fact be delayed until October:

iPhone has already passed several of its required certification tests and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned. We can’t wait until customers get their hands (and fingers) on it and experience what a revolutionary and magical product it is. However, iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price — we had to borrow some key software engineering and QA resources from our Mac OS X team, and as a result we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. While Leopard’s features will be complete by then, we cannot deliver the quality release that we and our customers expect from us. We now plan to show our developers a near final version of Leopard at the conference, give them a beta copy to take home so they can do their final testing, and ship Leopard in October. We think it will be well worth the wait. Life often presents tradeoffs, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones.

About three weeks ago, a site called DigiTimes predicted that Apple would be delayed until October. Everybody scoffed at the rumor, including me, because they got the other half of the rumor so badly wrong: they claimed that the delay would be caused by adapting Boot Camp to Windows Vista. So while it turns out that they were wrong on the reason, they were in fact right on the timing.

Reports say that Apple’s stock has fallen below $90 on the news, which is to be expected; the delay will disappoint a lot of people (not the least of which will be myself). On the other hand, this will end a lot of speculation about when Apple will tell everybody what those “top secret” features of Leopard are; that news will come at the WWDC in June. The bad news is also mitigated by the fact that while a Leopard delay is bad, it it much better than an iPhone delay; the iPhone is, for the time being, considered a much more important development by Apple. Another mitigating factor is the fact that Tiger is already a highly satisfactory OS, and while the features we know about in Leopard are nice, they are not yet something that people will miss yet–a positive side effect of not telling us what all of Leopard’s features are, I suppose.

This delay, however, has the effect of moving Apple closer to Microsoft’s sphere of incompetence; for a long time, Apple’s supporters (again, including myself) have been mocking Redmond for not being able to get a product out on time. There will no doubt be quite a bit of carping by Windows supporters about how Apple now sucks just the same. Of course, there are mitigating factors here, as well. One of them is the fact that this represents a delay of four months, not three years. Another is the fact that, as far as we know, Apple has not had to cut several key features of Leopard in order to get it out on time, as was the case with Vista. And finally, there will be the final release quality of Leopard: if it sucks like Vista, then there will be some justice to the carping, otherwise not so much. And, of course, there is still the fact that since Apple’s 2-year-old Tiger is still more advanced than Windows Vista, we can well afford to wait an extra four months for a new OS.

Let’s just hope that this is the last of the bad news from Apple for a while.

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  1. Paul
    April 13th, 2007 at 18:24 | #1

    A TON is resting on the iPhone. If it has any problems, then it’ll be a huge black eye for Apple. If it kicks butt, then they’ll look like geniuses, and their stock will zoom back up.

  2. April 14th, 2007 at 02:52 | #2

    I think there is a HUGE difference between a 4 month delay and a a several year delay. And, as you pointed out, no loss of features. They have been clear about the problem, unlike Redmond, so… I see no loss of shine on Apple, personally.

  3. Jeff Stewart
    April 14th, 2007 at 06:51 | #3

    Given they were right about October, I’m inclined to give digitimes consideration on claim #2.

    It’s still entirely possible that Leopard is being delayed because of boot camp issues. Apple never specifically stated what they needed those “key software engineering and QA resources” for. I’d put compatibility with Windows high on the list of potential trouble issues, especially considering that Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to create difficulties for them.

    Apple writes some wonderful, naturally written press-releases, but they’re still PR. It’s not like they’re going to say, “we’re holding it up because it still has problems with vista, thanks to those bastards at Microsoft”.

    At the same time though, Apple can’t really be faulted for a teeny little four month delay. A lot of companies probably just would have put it out with the bugs and issued a patch after the initial sales bonanza.

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