Speculation arose Tuesday evening that Apple was prepping to launch OS X 10.7, or Lion, thanks to a series of outages at the Mac App Store. Developers began receiving notifications, too, that iTunes Connect, the service they use to manage their App Store offerings, would be undergoing maintenance during business hours of Wednesday.
Users assumed the outages were related to the pending Lion release because Apple will be distributing the new operating system only as a download through the Mac App Store. Lion is scheduled to ship some time before the end of July, and many rumors point to a July 14 rollout.
Developers will still be able to access iTunes Connect, but price changes they make to their apps may not appear until after the maintenance window. Customers in Mexico, U.K., Australia, Switzerland, Japan and Norway won’t be able to purchase apps during the maintenance period.
While the issues with connecting to the App Store and the iTunes Connect maintenance may be part of Apple’s preparation for launching Lion, it also seems likely that Apple started the maintenance to deal with unexpected store outages.
Apple has not said exactly when Lion will be available other than to say it will ship by the end of the month. OS X 10.7 will be priced at US$29.99 and will require Snow Leopard for installation.
[Thanks to TMO’s readers for the heads up.]