Thoughts about WWDC and Snow Leopard - an argument for a late summer or early fall 2009 Mac refresh

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Jun
05

By: switchtoamac at: 3:14 PM on June 5, 2009 | Comments (2)

With WWDC kicking off on Monday June 8, I wanted to post my expectation that Apple will release Mac updates in either September or October.  In the May 13, 2009 WWDC Press Release Apple stated it would be issuing a Mac OS X Snow Leopard 'final Developer Preview'.  Prior to this press release, I expressed my expectations of what Apple would likely do with respect to Snow Leopard at WWDC in a May 5, 2009 reply at the MacRumors Forums eight days prior to the Apple Press Release.  Here's what I stated:

"I don't think Apple will announce the immediate availability of Snow Leopard at WWDC. My expectation is that Apple will demo an almost complete version of Snow Leopard with Apple announcing that Snow Leopard will be released later in the year."
My expectation was on the mark and my reasoning was provided in the forum post.  I'll publish what I stated to reiterate the logic behind my expectations regarding the official Snow Leopard release and next round of Mac refreshes.

"Apple will probably want to release Snow Leopard after the annual Back To School Promotion as a means to ensure a steady stream of Mac sales in the summer. It would then be logical to follow the promotion with the Snow Leopard release. It all ties back to Apple's fiscal quarters. Apple won't want to have a blow out summer with the school promotion, a Snow Leopard release, and an iPhone refresh. They will want to spread some of this out.

Apple's Fiscal Quarters are as follows:
Q1 - October, November, December
Q2 - January, February, March
Q3 - April, May, June
Q4 - July, August, September

The Back to School promotion usually runs from mid June to mid September (give or take a few days). Thus, it makes sense for Apple to release Snow Leopard in conjunction with a series of Mac refreshes AFTER the conclusion of the school promotion and after the hype of the iPhone refresh release. It would be a great tactic to spur sales just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season!

Let's not forget what happened last year when Apple took on a bit too much when it rolled out the .Mac to MobileMe transition while subsequently releasing the iPhone 3G. Apple won't repeat the same mistake of taking on too many things at one time from a product refresh perspective.

Let's not forget about the Windows 7's release either which is also speculated to be rolled out later this year (it's already in RC stage). Apple and Microsoft will want to ensure the other doesn't get an extended period of coverage, thus I would expect that both OS's will be released within a few weeks of each other."

So what's happened since that forum reply?
  • May 13 - Apple announces that it will release a Snow Leopard final Developer Preview at WWDC
  • June 2 - Microsoft announces that it will be releasing Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista on October 22

Does this mean Apple WILL NOT announce Mac updates or a new Mac at WWDC?
No, but it's highly unlikely that we'll see Mac updates announced anytime prior to the fall.  Why update the Macs and/or release a new model that comes pre-installed with Mac OS X Leopard when Snow Leopard is just around the corner?  Besides, it doesn't quite align with the Mac refresh cycle.  Over the past few years, Apple has released Mac updates in the September to November time frame with the only exception being the iMac refresh in August 2007.

2008
  • October 14 - Apple refreshed the iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air models
2007
  • August 7 - iMac refresh announced (first release of the aluminum iMac)
  • November 1 - Apple refreshed the MacBook line and offered a processor upgrade on the MacBook Pro
2006
  • September 6 - Mac mini and iMac refresh
  • October 24 - MacBook Pro refresh
  • November 8 - MacBook refresh

September or October 2009 Mac refresh

There's one other Apple product line to consider, the iPod.  It's become customary over the past three years to expect a September iPod revamp.  Since 2006 Apple has refreshed the iPod in the first half of September:

  • 2008 - September 9
  • 2007 - September 5
  • 2006 - September 12
Taking all this into consideration, I expect that Apple will release Mac OS X Snow Leopard AND new Macs in either late summer (September) or early fall (late September/October).  I'm leaning towards the October time frame, as it would allow Apple to first address the iPhone update, the Back To School promotion, and the iPod update cycle.  Once these are out of the way Apple could roll out a comprehensive strategy to handle the wave of customers who will be upgrading to Snow Leopard and/or purchasing new Macs.  Oh yeah, I expect a new wave of switchers once Snow Leopard is released!

2 Reader Comments

Apple has historically held up refreshes until after the summer promotion is over. There are new chips coming out in late Q3 or more likely early to mid Q4, which will require a revamp of the laptops. I do, however, believe that there will be a speed bump of the laptops within the next few weeks as the Macbook unibodies are no longer a reasonable deal given the bump to the white one. Apple makes most of its money on the computers bought a few months to a year after a model has been released as the component prices fall while the price remains the same. Most speed bumps occur when Intel stops producing lower speed chips and replace them with faster ones at the same price point. Intel also has mobile chips to allow for the bump of all of the aluminum lap tops without a significant cost to apple. This would help with summer sales, especially given the economy and MS advertising, which can't be helping.

I was going to but a Mac Pro and a Laptop this summer but am not happy with the inability to upgrade the CPU's on the Mac Pro and the current price-performance ratio pushes me towards a white Macbook, especially given the retained FW port.

By the ay, as an aside for those interested in Apple's response to the upcoming release of FW3200 devices. There does not need to be one. FW3200 uses FW800 ports and cables and the only difference is in the chipset in the device and FW3200 devices are supposed to run at 3200 speeds using FW800 ports.

Nice piece of analysis. Your points seem quite valid and have reasoning behind them. I think new Macs later in the year make more sense than in the summer.

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