Analyst Tests Leopard, Offers Views on Intel Transition

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster on Monday discussed his views on Mac OS X v10.5 "Leopard" after testing a developer-only copy. He also offered feedback from his discussions with developers during last weekis Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), noting: "Attendees say Intel transition going better than expected."

"After a week of testing the Leopard preview, we are impressed with the next generation operating system," Mr. Munster wrote. "We believe that the integration of Boot Camp will significantly change the impact that Boot Camp has on Appleis ability to capture market share by winning Windows users. As Boot Camp moves from beta to an official version in Leopard and the Windows installation becomes more user-friendly, increasing numbers of Windows users will switch to a Mac."

With Microsoftis Windows Vista set for release in early 2007 and Leopard tagged for a spring 2007 timeframe, the analyst noted: "These releases are not necessarily a race to the finish, but we believe that Apple will work hard to ship Leopard before or close to the release of Vista."

Mr. Munster also used his time at last weekis WWDC to speak with 16 developers about their thoughts on the Intel transition. Fourteen of them had ported an application from PowerPC-only to Universal Binary, and all of them said it was easier than they had expected.

In addition, 14 of the 16 interviewees believe that the ability to run Windows on a Mac "will positively impact Mac application development," the analyst wrote. "Most of the developers felt that Boot Camp will lead to market share gains and the switchers from PCs to Macs will want their Windows applications on their new Macs. So, ultimately, consumer demand for Mac versions of Windows software should increase." The other two developers were undecided.

Finally, 15 of the 16 developers expect more Mac applications long-term as a result of the switch to Intel, with one undecided. "The dominant opinion regarding the Intel-based Macs is that they will propel market share gains for Apple," Mr. Munster explained. "As Apple gains market share, the demand for Mac applications will increase, so there will be more Mac applications and more competition in the space, leading to better applications."

The analyst retained his "Outperform" rating on Appleis stock, with a US$99 price target. At 1:11 PM EST on Monday, the companyis shares were selling for $64.98, up 2.09% for the day.

<!--#include virtual="/includes/newsite/series/stockwatch.shtml"-->