Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the update of Apple's (aapl) current Macintosh operating system that Steve Jobs said would ship in "about a year" when he introduced it last June, may not arrive until later this summer or fall.
That's one of the nuggets of news offered by Kaufman Bros.' Shaw Wu in a report to clients issued Wednesday.
Among other findings Wu turned up in a check of his sources in Apple's supply chain and distribution network:
- Mac build plans have increased. Due to stronger-than-expected reception of Apple's newly introduced Macs, Wu says that the Street's current estimates of 2.2 - 2.3 million Macs shipped in the March quarter may turn out to be on the low side.
- New products in the works. Commenting on recent speculation about an Apple netbook, Wu says his sources suggest that "several initiatives" are being worked on, including perhaps a smaller MacBook Air or "MacBook mini" (essentially a netbook) and oversized iPod touches.
- The Mac mini is a "sleeper hit." Wu is seeing "surprisingly positive feedback" on Apple's cheapest Mac. He would liked to have seen lower prices, but he says the $599 display-and-keyboard-less box is being "warmly received" for its larger hard drive, faster processor and NVIDIA graphics chip.
- Delayed quad-core iMac. Wu, like many other hardcore Mac users, was hoping for a quad-core iMac, as opposed to the dual-core machine Apple released last week. Now he says it makes more sense for Apple to wait for Snow Leopard, which takes better advantage of the quad core processors, and for lower-power parts from Intel that don't run quite so hot.
Wu's track record on Apple hardware predictions is mixed. He correctly predicted the release of new desktop Macs, but he also said that they would be unveiled two months earlier at Macworld, along with a new combination Apple TV/Time Capsule that never materialized. (link)
Apple has yet to respond to our request for comment.