Putting the Leopard delay in perspective

Today Apple, Inc. announced that it next version of Mac OS X, codenamed Leopard, will be delayed until October.

The initial reaction (just from scanning around various Mac blogs/forums) was outrage for those who were expecting Leopard by WWDC ’07 in June.

While I am more disappointed then outraged (after all, OS X Tiger works just fine right now and is very competitive with what Vista offers), here are my thoughts on why this happened.

Apple stated plainly that they had to borrow key OS X developers to help finish the iPhone for its June release, which robbed the OS X team of key developers it need to finish on time. Makes sense, since the iPhone is running a stripped down version of OS X.

While some people don’t like how Apple is transforming from a computer company into a consumer electronics company (an argument I will save for another time), it is 100% clear that the Apple considers the iPhone crucial to its long term health. After all, just like the iPod effect introduced millions of people to Macs, the iPhone has the potential to do just that, if not more. They have to get the iPhone out the door on time so they get the maximum buzz. The more people that have the gateway Apple products (iPod, iPhone, iTunes, Apple TV), the more likely they will switch to Macs in the future.

Second, this is nothing like the often delayed and years in the waiting Windows Vista release. Apple has never (at least in public) promised a feature in Leopard, then announced later that it has been cut (WinFS is the famous Vista example). Apple didn’t scrap an early version and start from scratch, which happened with Vista according to Wikipedia. In fact, Apple continues to hint that it has secret features up its sleeve (today’s press release even said that Leopard will be “feature complete” at WWDC ’07).

Finally, I am all for waiting and squashing the remaining bugs. A four month delay (which is what the delay will be, since June 21st is the last day of spring and October is just 4 months from June) is a small price to pay for no major issues on release day. I’ll take that in a heart beat.

So in closing, take it easy. It isn’t the worst thing in the world. At least we don’t have to wait 6-7 years like the Vista folks did.