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  (Source: Apple)

  (Source: Apple)
But Apple is afraid some new hacks will threaten its closed box policies.

Between Friday and Tuesday, 2 million copies of Apple's new OS Leopard were sold.  The release of Leopard, also known as Mac OS X 10.5, was covered by DailyTech earlier this month.

Analysts estimate that 200,000 of the Leopard sales were on Mac systems that came pre-installed with it.  This would indicate a very strong sales weekend for Apple in the Mac department as well.

After a torrid quarter which showed earnings risings 67 percent and sales of 2.16 million Macs, many analysts believe that Leopard may chase up some even higher Mac sales figures.

With Apple currently the 3rd largest home computer seller, and with second place Dell struggling with unsavory financial disclosures, the sky may be the limit for Apple and its new OS.

J.P. Gownder, principal analyst with Forrester Research, feels Apple faithful may be helping to spread the good word about the OS.

"Consumers typically don't understand or know why they should care about an operating system," he says, "But in the Apple ecosystem, there are lots of evangelists that play a large role in proselytizing for Apple."

Apple may face a more difficult battle climbing its way higher in market share, though.  Technology research firm Gartner Inc. stated that Apple appeared to have an 8 percent market share in the last quarter.  Gaining much more may be much tougher.

Many analysts expect weaker sales next quarter.  Apple has thrived in the summer months, traditionally, on back to school specials.  Last Christmas its sales were weaker than expected, with only 1.6 million Macs shipping in the Q4 2006.

Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray argues though that the strong sales of Leopard should relieve any fears, as it shows that Apple's user base is eager to update their OS--and is willing to do so frequently.  He stated, "These numbers show the Mac user base is growing.  It also shows that it is an unusually active user base."

Leopard features software tools Quick Look and Time Machine, as well as the inclusion of Boot Camp to allows Microsoft OS support for gaming functionality (though Mac may soon be getting serious gaming capabilities of its own).

Leopard is so popular it has even come under hack attack--hackers have successfully unlocked the platform to run on non-Mac PCs. 

The move follows in the spirit of Jailbreakme.com, which as reported by DailyTech exploits a safari TIFF vulnerability to unbrick iPhones and iPod Touches and allow them to install third party applications.  Apple does not want to permit such applications until 2008 and will try to brick iDevices that do so. 

Likewise Apple is less than happy about its beloved Leopard being let free to run on non-Mac PCs.  Apple has had a strict policy against "clone" PCs -- PCs run an Apple OS on non-Apple hardware.  Under Gil Amelio's leadership in the 90s clone PCs were temporarily allowed, but upon the return of Steve Jobs as CEO, clones were promptly re-banned.

The wild popularity of Apple's products, both hardware and software, has led to a massive knowledgeable fan base that pick apart and unlock its programs to enjoy greater freedoms.  Apple has played a cat-and-mouse game with these hackers, but its efforts are mostly in vain, and only serve to stir up some short lived controversy, until the next unlock is found.  Some even speculate wildly that CEO Steve Jobs secretly wants hacks, but can't officially endorse them.

Will Apple torrid Leopard sales continue.  Will it one day open its platform to non-proprietary hardware.  How many Leopard copies will soon be running unlocked on PCs?  Will this help Leopard gain ground on Vista?  Only time will tell, but for now Apple can be pleased by the ferocity of Leopard's sales.





"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer







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