Apple may delay the release of OS X 10.9 because it's pulled engineers from the team to help in a final push on the next version of iOS, according to online reports.
A delay won't affect Mac sales, and by all measurements, shifting bodies to iOS -- a much more crucial Apple property -- makes all the sense in the world, an analyst argued.
Wednesday, both the AllThingsD blog and Bloomberg reported that Apple management had shanghaied developers from the OS X group and put them to work on iOS 7, the revamped mobile operating system set to debut at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which begins June 10.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball first reported on the resource reallocation a month ago.
If accurate, the move would be a repeat of a 2007 maneuver when Apple pushed back the launch of OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, from June to October. Apple shipped Leopard Oct. 26, 2007, months later on the calendar than either its predecessor, OS X Tiger, or the three succeeding editions, Snow Leopard (August), Lion (July) and Mountain Lion (July).
Months before the expected launch of Leopard, Apple went public with the news of its delay, explaining that it stole engineers from the desktop OS team to work on the iPhone's first operating system, dubbed iPhone OS. Apple later renamed the operating system to "iOS."
"Finishing [the iPhone OS] 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," Apple said in April 2007. "As a result, we will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned."
Apple has said next to nothing about either OS X 10.9 or iOS 7, other than to confirm that it plans to provide previews to WWDC attendees, and by implication all registered Apple developers, during the conference.
The near silence of Apple on OS X 10.9, particularly the lack of a developer preview so far this year, has signaled that, unless Apple had radically departed from its usual timetable, it would ship the next OS X in early November, or in the same ballpark as Leopard.
Last year, Apple said it was going to stick with an annual release cadence for OS X, following the path trod by Mountain Lion, which launched a year after Lion. But even a several-month delay would not significantly disturb that tempo, analysts have argued.
A later debut for OS X 10.9 won't matter in the long run, echoed Ezra Gottheil, analyst with Technology Business Research, in a Thursday interview.
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