At Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco on Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the company had completed its transition to Intel microprocessors. Jobs also showed off 10 minor new features in Apple's new OS, which is code-named Leopard. However, despite wide expectations, Apple didn't announce any new iPod or iTunes features.
To complete the move to Intel's microprocessors, Apple had to replace the aging Power Mac, which was hobbled by IBM's inability to ship fast new chips. The new Mac Pro, as the Intel-based model is called, looks like a barnburner, with two dual-core (or "quad-core" in Apple-speak) microprocessors, high-end graphics options, and more expandability. It's even reasonably priced for an Apple product.
The Mac OS X Leopard announcement and demonstration during Jobs' keynote was disappointing, given Apple's relentless hype. Jobs showed off only minor new features, claiming that the best was yet to come, despite Apple's intentions to ship Leopard by June 2007. "Mac OS X leads the industry in operating system innovation," Jobs said. "While Microsoft tries to copy the version of OS X we shipped a few years ago, we’re leaping ahead again with Leopard." There was precious little evidence of a "leap" during Jobs' keynote, however. The biggest new feature—Time Machine—appears to be a graphically enhanced version of a feature Microsoft shipped in Windows Server 2003 more than three years ago.
Apple's decision to hide Leopard's biggest new features just 10 months before shipping the product might seem odd, but it's likely the company was influenced by Microsoft's high-profile failure to deliver key Windows Vista features. That, at least, is one way Apple has learned from Microsoft.
For analysts, the biggest disappointment wasn't Leopard, but the lack of multimedia announcements, such as a Media Center-like Macintosh, an update to iTunes to support movie downloads, or a new iPod. Apple has reportedly been working on all of these initiatives, but you wouldn't know it from WWDC, which showcased only predictable updates to existing products.