Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard delay is a leadership failure

Apple Store“On April 12th, Apple announced that Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, will be delayed from the original ‘Spring 2007’ ship date. Now it won’t ship until October,” John Martellaro writes for The Mac Observer.

“Considering that Apple had until June 21st (1806 UT) to ship Leopard, this is only a four month delay. In terms of OS releases, in general, this is no big deal some have said,” Martellaro writes.

“Well, yes it is,” Martellaro writes. “It’s actually a big deal because Apple had it within its power to avoid this setback.”

Martellaro writes, “Apple could have avoided this Leopard delay with good old fashioned management leadership. They could have allowed themselves to grow and mature a little. They could have empowered their key VPs to figure out what it would take to ship Mac OS X/Leopard on time, with excellence and exercise some authority. Unfortunately, many of Apple’s key VPs aren’t Lieutenant Generals. They’re Lieutenant Colonels.”

“Alas, Apple’s psychology and operating style is trapped in the $6B Valley of Death syndrome and not moving into a 21st century consumer electronics company that’s poised to move from $25B to, perhaps, $40B in just a few years,” Martellaro writes. “To get there in good shape, Apple will have to spend some money on something besides a half billion dollar new campus, forget the ghosts of the Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio eras, empower their VPs, and let their VPs become responsible for their own products, staff and OPEX.”

Full article – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “LinuxGuy and Mac Prodigal Son” for the heads up.]
Martellaro, as usual, makes a lot of sense. Obviously, Jobs knows what he’s doing, but nobody’s perfect. The bottom line is that the failure of Leopard to ship when promised is a failure. Perhaps it’s a minor failure, maybe just a one-time failure, but it’s a failure nonetheless.

Related articles:
Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard delay is a (somewhat) big deal – April 16, 2007
Apple buys 9 more acres in Cupertino – April 14, 2007
Apple’s latest Mac OS X Leopard build shows unified interface, buh-bye brushed-metal – April 14, 2007
eWeek’s Morgenstern: Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard delay is no big whoop – April 13, 2007
InformationWeek blows it again: reports second delay of Leopard this year due to Vista compatibility – April 13, 2007
Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Piper Jaffray: Use Apple’s Leopard delay as buying opportunity – April 13, 2007
Analysts unconcerned over Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard delay – April 13, 2007
Apple delays Mac OS X Leopard until October 2007, blames iPhone – April 12, 2007
Latest Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard build still accompanied by lengthy bug list – April 12, 2007
RUMOR: Apple to release Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard in June – April 02, 2007
Apple’s Mac OS X Leopard to feature ZFS? – March 29, 2007
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard’s top secret ingredient: 3D everywhere, including new 3D Finder? – March 27, 2007
Apple to delay Leopard?’s poor Apple rumor accuracy – March 23, 2007
Apple to postpone Mac OS X Leopard until October in order to support Windows Vista? – March 23, 2007
RUMOR: Some Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard ‘top secret’ features leak out – January 26, 2007
RUMOR: Apple Mac OS X Leopard to replace ‘Aqua’ with ‘Illuminous’ – December 11, 2006
Apple confirms ‘resolution independence’ and more coming in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard – October 23, 2006
Cost of Apple’s second 50-acre Cupertino campus could top $500 million – April 25, 2006
Video: Steve Jobs meets Cupertino City Council – April 22, 2006
Transcript: Apple CEO Steve Jobs addresses the Cupertino City Council – April 20, 2006
Apple CEO Steve Jobs plans new 50-acre campus in California – April 19, 2006


  1. Whilst there is always a case for the idea that management should have ensured that the company grew enough so it could cope with demand and keep to schedule. I would also argue that writing software (or doing anything else creative) isn’t something you can always put a specific timetable on, if it ends up taking longer than you might have estimated then you have two options: put more people on it or delay it. More haste less speed and too many cooks spoil the broth all have some relevance.

  2. I certainly agree. It’s time to empower others besides Steve Jobs. Apple is growing at a phenomenal pace and it would be foolhardy to expect that everything would stay the same. The grooming process for Steve’s replacement should be underway already.

  3. Jobs took the company from the edge of bankruptcy to the powerhouse it is today. He took Pixar from virtually nothing to a multi billion dollar company as well. He says he let Pixar’s people run Pixar. That means he knows how to delegate. I am sure he does not micro manage Apple.

    Now some blogger who has never been a CEO of a major or even minor company is trying to criticize his leadership.


  4. I really don’t understand all the fuss… would people rather Leopard was released with bugs in June, or would they rather it was released in October with all the known bugs ironed out?

    I just think people are being too fussy.

  5. I think Apple’s leadership is better than ever. Better to be four months late with a great product than 4 months early with crap like some big software companies we know. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  6. Here’s a hint Apple, don’t announce a timeline for release until the product is 100% ready for commercial sale. This would avoid those annoying negative blogs and consumer frustration. Of course, such honesty and integrity would require a sea change in corporate culture.

  7. Software development isn’t a fixed process which can be precisely scheduled to complete in absolute time. Locating and fixing bugs is tedious, systematic and [unfortunately] often quite arbitrary.

    Apple needs to spend a modest chunk of its new wealth on larger salaries and well-deserved bonuses for its own senior engineers and developers who actually create these great products.

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