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Summary:

Anyone looking for proof of the strategic importance of iPhone to Apple doesn’t have to look beyond Apple’s press release page — the company is delaying the next version of its Operating System, code-named Leopard, by four months, and instead shifting resources to iPhone, now slated […]

Anyone looking for proof of the strategic importance of iPhone to Apple doesn’t have to look beyond Apple’s press release page — the company is delaying the next version of its Operating System, code-named Leopard, by four months, and instead shifting resources to iPhone, now slated for late June 2007 release.

The press release issued by Apple points to a weak link in Steve Jobs’ grand design for global digital domination: not enough minions.

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.

The future of Apple is devices. Non-computing consumer electronic type devices are much less powerful than traditional computers, and need programmers who are thrifty in their code and skillful enough to squeeze the very last pico-hertz of performance out of lower-power embedded processors.

It is even more important in the mobile phone world, where poorly written code could simply negate the best efforts of hardware engineers. Apple doesn’t want to do that — it has a beautiful device, with an elegant user interface. However, lethargic applications and poor battery life could destroy user experience and chill the demand for even the hottest phone on the market. Apple historically has been home to coders who squeezed every drop out of those low-powered Motorola chips.

Typically, OS upgrades have provided a financial boost to the company’s profit margins, but this shuffle indicated that Apple is glad to forego those profits and instead opt for its next big cash cow – iPhone.

Now we can smirk, and point to the fact, Apple did drop Computer from its name after all.

PS: This delay should stop those Vista-delay jokes, because those who live in glass houses don’t throw stones.

Photo by Niall Kennedy via Flickr.

  1. Maybe. Or, they could simply be making up stories (excuses) about why Leopard will be late. A couple months ago, Leo Laporte said that Leopard’s not nearly ready to be released. Remember, its software. Release dates can slip regardless of whether you’re diverting resources or not.

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  2. I agree with the excuse theory. When Jobs showcased iPhone in January, he showed almost all the great features. I am sure he wouldn’t have dared to showcase a buggy/under performing/slow(on software) phone on a world stage. At that time, at least I thought, Apple needs time to muscle out large scale production facilities and tune the supply chain to meet an expected huge customer demand. Did the phone lack software or features? or was it slow in performance? I doubt it. This is more of a Leopard problem.

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  3. The analysis of Apple strategic move are head on. And even with the shift of resources, they will deserve big kudos if they succeed in shipping the iPhone on time. It is an amazingly complicated piece of software. And at the iPhone event many of the screens shown were mock ups (calender is one example). Not to mentioned that debugging this piece of software – killing the last few hundred bugs – is the hardest part of shipping. Bottom line – glad to see Apple realizing where the money is moving and shifting engineers accordingly. It takes guts to do it – but thats something Jobs has plenty of.

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  4. I seriously doubt this delay has anything to do with iPhone. Did anyone try the latest Leopard developer seeds? It’s not even close to being released yet.

    I don’t understand why this is being compared to the Vista delays? Microsoft delayed Vista for 3 years… Apple gets in the same category when they delay their release for 3 months? Come on.

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  5. And we all know that throwing more engineers at the problem always manages to get the product shipped on time.

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  6. Without a doubt, this is a strategic marketing decision – why dilute the focus on the iPhone and at the same time garner more consumers to upgrade to Leopard, they will have to dish out extra cash for the new operating system.

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  7. Well, its hardly fair to compare a 4 month delay to the years that Microsoft fanboys had to wait for Vista.
    And Apple isn’t pulling coders off Leopard to fix Tiger, as happened when MS released XP SP2.
    While the house may be glass, it does have a large open window through which Apple can hurl projectiles MS’s way.

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  8. Depsite the updated release date and beautiful design, I won’t consider buying one until the 3rd generation is released.

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  9. Apple may be delaying Leopard, but at least they’re offering a game-changing consumer electronics device instead. Microsoft offered nothing but fewer features for Vista in exchange.

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  10. @Vijay: ROTFL

    Throwing more engineers has always been a recipe for disaster … But expertise can help speed things up… Also we are talking about integration of OSX and the iPhone, some resources should have been diverted there. Also considering how hard the iPhone engineers must have been driven … some R&R is definitely due :)

    If apple tv is any indication – some anti hacking tips will also help.

    And Om what no Vista delay jokes. They are so entertaining…. There goes half the entertainment of Steves WWDC keynote.

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