On Apple holding new hardware for OS X Lion

Right now is a crazy time for Apple rumors. Between iOS 5 and new iPhones and OS X Lion and new MacBook Airs/Mac minis/MacBooks/Mac Pro rumors, most of us who cover the industry are just ready for Apple to release products so the rumors will slow down.

A common theme over the last few weeks was summed up well by Arnold Kim over at Mac Rumors this morning in a post about yet another MacBook Air rumor:

As we pointed out before, Apple will have to release OS X Lion at the same time or before the new hardware releases. So, expect OS X Lion sometime next week as well.

I’d like to discuss this line of thinking.

Apple doesn’t have to do anything, really. If the machines are ready now, Apple could ship them, with a coupon code for Lion in the box. Or it could make customers pay full price for the new OS release, regardless of whether or not the customer bought their machine the day before Lion ships.

There’s always the possibility that Apple could launch the MacBook Airs (or whatever the company has planned) before OS X Lion, and say the machines are just on pre-order, shipping them after Lion comes out.

The bigger picture in this whole thing is the marketing story. WWDC 2011 — with its never-ending keynote and pile of PR releases — is not normal for Apple. The company likes having one or two big stories in the news cycle at once. It’s why the company rarely does keynotes within 60-90 days of each other.

If Apple were to release new computers and OS X Lion at once, there is always the possibility that having two stories would split the public’s attention.

Of course, Apple is full of smart people. While I think that Apple launching Lion, then new machines a week or so later makes the most sense, many think Lion and Airs, etc. will be in tandem. Non-geek people don’t care that much about the order at all.

Whatever happens, I’m sure the company has it under control. No rumor site has the kind of experience these people do when crafting product releases.

I — for one — am just happy to see OS X Lion come out this month.

Stephen Hackett, formerly a Lead Mac Genius at Apple, now spends his days running the IT department of a large non-profit in Memphis, TN. He writes about Apple, design and journalism at forkbombr.net. Like all twenty-somethings, you can find him… Full Bio