Apple exec disses Vista as no threat to Leopard

New OS will boost Apple's revenue as history dictates, CFO expects

Apple's CFO yesterday Tuesday Windows Vista is no threat to Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" and argued that the steep hardware requirements of Microsoft's new operating system will give Leopard an opportunity to step in and grab more market share.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco, Peter Oppenheimer added that if history is any indicator, Apple would see a bump in revenue the quarter that Leopard -- Apple's name for Mac OS X 10.5 -- is released. When asked to give a more specific ship date for Leopard, however, Oppenheimer declined, repeating only what Apple has said for months: "This [Northern Hemisphere] spring".

As for how Leopard will stack up against Vista, Oppenheimer wasn't shy: "We believe we have the superior OS on the market today, and [this] release will only extend that. With the features and functionally and stability and security of Mac OS X, I don't really see Vista as a threat."

Perhaps keying off one of the television ads currently in rotation, Oppenheimer took a shot at Vista's hardware demands. "Since the hardware requirements for Vista require much of the installed base to buy a new PC, it gives [the] Mac an opportunity to be considered," he said.

Leopard, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated at Apple's developers conference last August, has had a low profile so far in 2007; the OS was a no-show during Jobs' presentation at January's MacWorld conference. Instead, Jobs put the spotlight on the new iPhone, which is scheduled to ship in June.

In fact, Oppenheimer used the same Morgan Stanley event to tout the iPhone and the upcoming Apple TV device.

Leopard's new features include Time Machine, a data backup and file versioning application; the virtual desktop dubbed Spaces; an updated Spotlight desktop search engine; and the integrated Boot Camp, a dual-boot utility that lets users run Windows on a Mac.

Oppenheimer said Apple would likely show a revenue bump in the quarter of Leopard's release. "Usually your first quarter is your best one," he said. "The last release [Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger," released in April 2005], in its first quarter we had US$100 million of OS sales in that quarter."

Gene Munster, a senior analyst who covers Apple for Piper Jaffrey, has put the revenue impact at a more optimistic US$130 million in the quarter ending June 30.

Apple's sales during 2006 posted gains significantly larger than the industry average, and by the end of the year the company held 4.7 percent to 5.1 percent of the U.S. market, according to IDC and Gartner, respectively.

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Gregg Keizer

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