Apple delays Leopard; blame the iPhone

Apple said its operating system upgrade Leopard won't be released in June as planned.Why?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple said its operating system upgrade Leopard won't be released in June as planned.

Why? The iPhone has absorbed Apple's resources as it certifies it with AT&T/Cingular so it can ship in late June.

A Leopard delay wasn't totally unexpected. Word about a potential delay surfaced last month. At the time, the reason for the delay was reportedly to make Boot Camp work with Vista.

Apple said in a statement:

"(The) 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."

Apple also added that Leopard's features will be complete by June, but the company couldn't guarantee the quality.

"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 trade offs, and in this case we're sure we've made the right ones."

The news is likely to result in some Wall Street tweaking to Apple's quarterly projections. Leopard was expected to help fuel Mac purchases. However, a delay of the iPhone by Apple would definitely be viewed as the worst of two evils. Analysts are expecting big things from iPhone sales so may give Apple a pass on the Leopard delay--as long as the iPhone launches on time.

In a June 11 research note, JP Morgan analyst Bill Shope said:

Any production glitches for the iPhone could represent a significant risk for the stock. Although it is still too early to determine if the iPhone's launch will be on time, this is a complex product for Apple and we believe delays in touch screen fabrication could alter the rollout and initial availability.

Some analysts have surmised that the iPhone could spur a new halo effect surrounding Apple much like the iPod did. Leopard has no such expectation.

See also: Parsing spin, free passes and reality

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