Leopard Will be Late. So What.

Caught between launching the iPhone and Leopard in June, Apple has decided to delay the official launch of Leopard until October. While the Mac-Nation will likely be disappointed it has to wait another four months for a major OS update, Apple loses nothing strategically or goodwill-wise from delaying Leopard. The current OS is great – and more than holding its own against Vista – while Apple continues to bask in the glow of the iPod and strong MacBook sales. With so much momentum, there’s no reason to rush Leopard out the door and release something not fully-baked. Of course, the decision to delay Leopard until October also lets Apple put the marketing spotlight entirely on the iPhone – and let’s not forget that Apple’s strengths are savvy marketing and excellent design. Rather then forcing the Mac-Nation – and the media, which embraces new Apple releases with unbridled enthusiasm – to focus on two product launches, Apple will spread the love throughout the entire year. Smart.

Here’s Apple’s official statement:

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.

Update: Apple Insider suggests Leopard is still plagued by a lengthy bug list, while Herb Greenberg said investors should focus on the IPhone rather than Leopard.

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  • Mark Jaquith

    With so much momentum, there’s no reason to rush Leopard out the door and release something not fully-baked.

    It’d be out of character for Apple to do it, and I’d certainly prefer to wait for a stable upgrade than suffer a buggy Spring release. Still, it’s hard not to be disappointed. Especially since my self-imposed restriction means that I’ll not be upgrading to a MacBook Pro until Leopard comes pre-installed. :-)