It looks like the anticipated release of the refreshed Apple MacBook Air may have been delayed by Apple in favor of shipping the new hardware pre-loaded with the new forthcoming Mac OS X Lion operating system out of the box. While the hardware is reported to be ready, Apple is still holding them to pre-install Lion before it ships them to retail and to customers.
In addition to the MacBook Air–which are currently available in Intel dual-core chips in 11.6- and 13.3-inch display sizes–Apple may be withholding upgrades to the desktop box Mac Mini and a Thunderbolt-enabled LED Cinema Display for Lion as well.
It is speculated that the delay may have been attributed to Lion’s delays as Apple may have anticipated Lion to have been ready earlier than the case may be.
The upside for the speculated delay may be that users would now no longer need to download the 4 GB upgrade through the Mac App Store as Apple says that its online app store will be the exclusive distribution channel for the $30 software upgrade for older machines. Additionally, as Apple is promising free upgrades to recently shipped machines, this may also eliminate the need for fulfilling rebates or offering free download codes. Moreover, it may help users get a better experience out of the box, especially for new users who may be switching from Windows. By starting those would-be customers off directly on OS X 10.7 Lion, those users would not need to learn the paradigms of computing on OS X Snow Leopard and then have to learn about the new architecture, software, and usage of OS X Lion when the upgrade is available.
Additionally, with the strong push behind iCloud, perhaps Apple wants to ensure that it has iCloud fully working as well, sans glitches, before it unleashes the new MacBook Air, which straddles the space between an iPad and a notebook in the mobility space.