Apple launches Snow Leopard, posts support docs

No lines at flagship store in New York, but sales 'brisk'

Apple Inc. officially launched Snow Leopard today and started selling the upgrade at its retail stores. Customers who pre-ordered copies of Mac OS X 10.6 from the company earlier this week are due to receive the upgrade today.

Lines were noticeably absent from Apple's retail stores, however, a contrast from two years ago when Leopard launched in October 2007. A salesperson at Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City, for instance, said sales of Snow Leopard were "brisk," but that there were no lines. "You can just come right in," he said.

In 2007, Apple sold 2 million copies of Mac OS X 10.5, known as Leopard, during the first weekend. Analysts, however, have said it's unlikely Snow Leopard will match its predecessor's sales: Their estimates have generally been in the 2.5 million to 3 million range for the quarter that ends Sept. 30.

That would be in sync with Apple's marketing of Snow Leopard as a performance and stability upgrade -- not an update that adds a slew of visible changes -- one of the reasons why Apple priced Snow Leopard at $29 for a single license, $49 for a five-license Family Pack. Online retailer Amazon.com, in fact, has already lowered Snow Leopard's prices to $25 for one license, $43.99 for the Family Pack.

Snow Leopard holds the first two spots in Amazon's software bestseller list, but other Apple-made products also made the top 10 today. The company's iLife '09 creativity bundle was at No. 7 as of 11 a.m. Eastern, while the iWork '09 productivity suite held No. 10. The Mac Box Set, a combination of Snow Leopard, iLife '09 and iWork '09 which Apple has pitched to users running Tiger, was at No. 9.

Tiger users, however, can opt for the lower-priced $29 upgrade to Snow Leopard if they're willing to violate Apple's license agreement.

Also today, Apple began posting Snow Leopard-specific support documents to its Web site, including ones detailing installation problems and others answering questions about Boot Camp, the utility that lets Mac owners run Microsoft Windows on their machines.

Apple provides an RSS feed of its support documents that make it easier to pick out the new additions.

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