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
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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
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Apple to delay Leopard? Digitimes.com’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
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Apple confirms ‘resolution independence’ and more coming in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard – October 23, 2006
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Video: Steve Jobs meets Cupertino City Council – April 22, 2006
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115 Comments

  1. Besides having a good name, “Jim” also makes good points. Any other company would probably have released Leopard with bugs in June and made up for it by October. Do we want that? No. I’d prefer a clean product release rather than a buggy one that gets followed up with a bunch of point releases to fix the issues.

    I doubt that the author from The Mac Observer has ever been a software engineer, or a manager. If he had, he’d understand that his simple solution to the delay is not that simple. Sometimes perfecting a product takes time, not some manager standing over your head telling you to get it done.

  2. My memory seems to be slipping today. Could someone please remind me what company John Martellaro runs?

    Bloody back seat drivers! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”angry” style=”border:0;” />

  3. Much guessing and speculation. Companies are not run by one person making every decision and therefore he has no idea what Steve Jobs has given his VPs in respect to decision making authority.

    Delays happen for a lot of reasons, lack of staff, can be one of them, but trained software engineers can not be hired and immediately speed things up as they need time to get up to speed and may actually delay the project further.

    I would put this piece in the FUD category and by someone that has not worked in business much.

  4. My understanding based on reading other news reports here and elsewhere (so I may be totally wrong – lol), is that Leopard is done with the exception of some of the “top secret” items. Given what Windows users went through waiting for Longhorn/Vista where they not only waited for numerous time delays, but also alot of feature cutting as well. Since Tiger is already an excellent OS – I think that Apple is wise to delay the relase of Leopard to make sure all the features work, and avoid cutting any features simply to reach a set release date.

  5. I would put this piece in the FUD category and by someone that has not worked in business much.

    He seems to know sufficiently enough to know that “Instead, each year, managers are asked to figure out ways to maintain or reduce their OPEX.”

    MDN “office” . Incredible.

  6. Who cares how late Leopard is, as long as it’s properly developed and works without major glitches right out of the box. Four months isn’t that long to achieve that.

    How often can Microsoft say their OS manages to do that..?

  7. If you give power to Veeps and then pressure them for results, guess what happens. You get bug ridden software (Vista) and poorly thought out products (Zune). In either case, the oOverseer did not have confidence in the ‘final’ product.

    Is the release a failure, perhaps. But failures like that occur when you want to produce quality. I do not mind waiting (although I wish I didn’t have to). So easy to criticize the do-ers of this world.

  8. Martellaro writes. “It’s actually a big deal because Apple had it within its power to avoid this setback.

    “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.

    Who the FSCK is this guy?

    First off there are a lot of things with Lepoard that the public is not informed about. There are a lot of things deeply inbedded in Lepoard that depend upon outside factors which is out of Apple’s control. These outside factors have changed which has influenced how and when Apple can release their next version of their OS.

    For instance the hackers are chopping the hell out of AACS copy protection scheme designed to protect BlueRay DVD’s. The MIAA is pissed and if it can’t be made secure, we might never see BlueRay DVD movies on our computer screens. This will afffect Apple sales of Apple TV because no way in hell will the MIAA release HD content for iTMS unless the content can be made secure.

    Anyone who has seen iTMS content on their HD screen can attest to the poor quality.

    Another factor is the tons of third party software that wants a toehold on the new iPhone. Apple has to make sure this software works correctly and doesn’t cheapen the experience of a totally new approach to mobile computing.

    So Apple is under pressure being the market innovator that’s a fact, somethings have been shuffled arround and delayed a bit, it’s no big deal.

    Remmember Microsoft delayed their Vista for YEARS and Apple only delayed their UPGRADE for a few months, big difference

  9. John Martellaro seems to think that applying microsh*t management principles to Apple will work better. I happen to agree with most of the posts and call BULLSHIT as well. I don’t recall anything like this when mafiasoft delayed longhorn the first of many times. I think we don’t need to fix something that’s not broken. It may need some maintenance but I think SJ is in the best position to decide what maintenance is needed, if any.

    MW=issue. As in I don’t think this is an issue.

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