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Sat, Apr 14, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Apple delays release of OS X Leopard

PRIORITIES The operating system was scheduled to be available this spring, but the company focused instead on launching iPhone, which analysts predict will be a hit

AP , SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

Apple Inc said it will not be shipping its next-generation operating system in June as planned, saying that it had to divert resources from the project so that it could launch its highly anticipated iPhone on time.

The new shipment date for Mac OS X "Leopard" will be in October, the company said on Thursday.

The iPhone will make its debut in the US in June as planned.

It will be launched in Europe later this year and in Asia next year.

Apple shares dropped US$1.75, or nearly 2 percent, to US$90.44 in extended-session trading after the announcement.

Earlier, they had closed at US$92.19, down US$0.40, on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

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 [quality assurance] resources from our Mac OS X team," Apple said in a statement.

Apple announced the iPhone -- a smart phone that also serves as an iPod media player -- in January to much fanfare.

The Cupertino, California-based company announced on Thursday that the iPhone was still on track to be shipped in late June and has passed several of the required certification tests.

Apple, which had previously said that Leopard would be available in the spring, had hoped to release the Mac operating system upgrade at its Worldwide Developers Conference, a five-day event in San Francisco, California, that starts June 11.

Instead, a "near-final version" of Leopard will be ready for the developers at the conference to take home, Apple said.

Though Leopard's features will be complete by then, Apple said the company won't be ready to ship what it considers a "quality release."

"We think it'll be worth the wait," Apple said. "Life often presents trade-offs, and in this case we're sure we've made the right ones."

Analysts said the company had made a good choice in the face of a potential problem.

"If it came down to one product or the other slipping, they made the right choice for iPhone to be on time -- where consumer demand and anticipation is already running high," said Michael Gartenberg, an industry analyst at JupiterResearch.

Apple intends to launch two versions of the iPhone -- a 4-gigabyte model for US$499 and an 8-gigabyte one for US$599.

Apple has said it hopes to sell 10 million iPhone units next year, representing about 1 percent of the market.

The iPhone is a new foray for the maker of the iPod and the Macintosh computer.

Analysts predict the iPhone could be yet another hit product that could boost the company's growing fortunes.

Leopard is Apple's sixth major upgrade to Mac OS X since the desktop operating system debuted in 2001.

In fact, Apple has ribbed its larger rival Microsoft Corp for its repeated delays of the Vista operating system.

The overhauled Windows platform was released in January after five years of development and is often seen as playing catch-up on features found in Apple's existing operating system.

Product delays -- which are a fact of life in the high-tech world -- are uncharacteristic for Apple partly because the company usually avoids announcing expected shipment dates.

The Leopard delay, however, is the second Apple product to have its release pushed back since the beginning of the year.

Apple TV, a set-top box for streaming video and other content from computers to a television set, was originally slated for a February launch but did not ship until March 21.

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