Apple is blaming the delayed launch of its new Mac OS X software, codenamed Leopard, on its forthcoming iPhone.
The company had originally planned to ship Leopard in June. But it won’t be able to meet that deadline now as product engineering and quality assurance resources for the project have been diverted to the iPhone, which is also scheduled to ship in June.
Leopard will be the sixth’ major upgrade to Apple’s Mac OS X desktop operating system, which debuted in 2001. The upgrade includes new features like Time Machine, a file back-up utility, enhancements to the email and messaging system, and easy toggling between standard desktop and archival views.
Apple added that Leopard will now ship sometime in October. It had originally said the software would be available in the spring, but later pushed that back to June to coincide with its WorldWide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
However the company hinted that developers at the conference will be able to take away what it calls a near-final version of the software.
Apple officials were philosophical about the delay, saying in a statement: Life often presents trade-off, and in this case we’re sure we’ve made the right ones.
We think it’ll be worth the wait.
Clearly iPhone has taken preference over Leopard with Apple considering it to be its most important product release since its iPod media player.
iPhone will be a smart phone that blends mobile telephony, an iPod media player and instant messaging in a slim-line device with a large screen. The product has been hyped since January with consumers and corporate users eager to get their hands on it.
Apple expects to ship 10 million iPhone devices by 2008, which will represent around 1% of the market.
Apple is confident that iPhone will ship to schedule and said the product has already passed several of the required certification tests.
Apple plans to ship two versions of iPhone – a 4-gigabyte model priced at $499 and an 8-gigabyte version at $599 – that will be available exclusively in the US through AT&T’s Cingular Wireless network.
European and Asian customers will have to wait until later this year and next year respectively to get their hands on an iPhone.
The iPhone contains the most sophisticated software ever shipped on a mobile device, and finishing it on time has not come without a price, Apple said in a statement last week.
We had to borrow some key software engineering and (quality assurance) resources from our Mac OS X team, the company added.
While many analysts agreed that Apple has made the right move, shares of the company nevertheless dipped 3% on Nasdaq last week on the news of the Leopard delay.
With consumer demand and anticipation for iPhone running high, it is understandable why Apple should want to push out this product as quickly as possible. Apple is banking on iPhone to boost its revenue, taking over from where its iPod device left off. Apple’s iPod already holds over 70% of the US market for digital music players.
However, it’s ironic that Apple, which has attacked rival Microsoft in the past for several delays to Vista, which was finally released in January this year, should now be in the same position. But unlike with Vista, other PC makers are not relying on Leopard for their machines. That means the impact of the delay on demand for its Mac PC will be negligible, and probably push down sales by a quarter.
Apple clearly has finite development resources at its disposal, and Leopard is the second product to be delayed; Apple TV, a set-top box for streaming video content from PCs, also shipped a month late in March this year. Perhaps Apple’s marketing division will now be more conservative in its product shipment date announcements going forward.