Apple Snow Leopard Ships Aug. 28, But Why Is It So Cheap?

operating system

The Apple Store Web site briefly went down for maintenance today before reappearing with an official ship date for Apple OS X 10.6, also known as Snow Leopard, of Friday, Aug. 28. It is priced at $29.

"Snow Leopard is going to be great for solution providers," said Michael Oh, founder of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple-centric solution provider. "I think the new OS will increase the user experience while increasing responsiveness and performance."

The Snow Leopard OS also represents an opportunity for solution providers to offer more services and potentially include a hardware refresh in any deal with customers, said Oh.

"Apple put a stake in the ground with Snow Leopard in an attempt to get people onto the new Intel hardware," said Oh. "A lot of new software won't be supported on the old PowerPC hardware, which gives solution providers an opportunity to sell hardware as well as services."

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But the relatively low price of Snow Leopard -- $29 -- is put in place because the latest version of the OS doesn't come with as many features as previous versions of the operating system, said one source.

"I've been playing with developer seeds and I can tell you from experience that Snow Leopard is faster," said the source. "The OS is more responsive, from a performance standpoint, and feels like a different OS. But the bells and whistles between OS 10.4 and 10.5 to OS 10.6 are not the same; the quantity has been reduced. That's why Apple lowered the price."

Even though there will be fewer features in Snow Leopard than in previous iterations, the OS will still provide a good experience for users, said the source.

"The migration from old to new is remarkably easy and, for the end user, the OS will be more stable and usable," said the source. "Still, it's cheaper so Apple won't make as much money on the upgrade -- but that's OK, they make enough off the hardware anyway."

Snow Leopard is currently available for preorder through the Apple Store.