Apple's delayed release of Mac OS X 10.5 'Leopard' has set analyst's talking – but they seem to believe there's more to the news than the company has revealed.
Think Equity analyst Jonathan Hoopes remarks: "To be clear, product delays are never a good thing. That said, the Leopard push-out to October will not likely result in significant Mac shipment disruption."
He also observes that the iPhone remains on schedule to ship in June in the US, and remarks: "Recent indications suggest that our iPhone unit shipment estimates will prove to be too low."
When it comes to competing with Microsoft Vista, the analyst doesn't think Apple needs to try too hard to show its superiority on the OS front, saying: "Apple does not have to prove itself on the operating system front. MacOSX, in its current state, is already racking up significant share gains versus industry standard PCs running on Windows."
Hoopes also notes that the October release of Leopard would coincide with Apple's next financial year, and wonders if management decided that two big revenue-raising launches (iPhone and Leopard) this year would make next year's revenue comparisons "too high".
The analyst held to his $120 price target and 'Buy' recommendation on the stock.
Similar pragmatic notes are being issued by analyst firms across the board. While some are offering revalued assessments on the company's stock, the consensus opinion appears to be that investors should exploit slight stock devaluing on the firm as a buying opportunity.
David Bailey at Goldman Sachs told AppleInsider: "Although the push out of Leopard is not ideal, we view iPhone as the driver of the next leg to the Apple growth story."
UBS analyst Ben Reitzes agrees with Bailey's conclusion, noting that shipping iPhone will be more strategically important for the company in the long-term.
JMP Securities analyst Ingrid Ebeling echoed these notions, and speculated that the delay in releasing Leopard may be due to Apple attempting to ensure Leopard's Boot Camp offers full support for Windows Vista.
Shaw Wu at American Technology Research sees the delay as a setback of sorts, but observed: "We believe the extra time Apple is allocating is for developers to test secret features that will likely be revealed at its WWDC 2007 conference starting on June 11, 2007."
Finally, BusinessWeek describes the four month delay as fairly minor – particularly in comparison to the months of delays which "plagued" the release of Windows Vista.