OS X Mountain Lion likely launch date: July 25

Apple probably will repeat last year's one-two punch of earnings call followed by OS debut the next day

Apple will launch OS X Mountain Lion July 25 if it repeats what it did last year when it announced the then-new Lion a day after its quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

Monday, Apple scheduled its next earnings call for 2:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday, July 24, when the company will reveal revenue numbers for the just-ended April-June quarter.

Last year at this time, Apple used a July 19, 2011 earnings call to announce the scheduled launch of OS X 10.7, aka Lion, for the next day.

"We are very excited to be launching Mac OS X Lion tomorrow," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO, during the early stages of the earnings call last year.

Apple dutifully launched Lion early Wednesday, July 20, from the Mac App Store.

If Apple follows past practice, Oppenheimer will use the earnings call in three weeks to set the release date for Mountain Lion.

So far, the only official word from Apple is that Mountain Lion will debut some time this month. Customers running OS X Snow Leopard or Lion can upgrade to the new edition.

OS X 10.8 will be priced at $19.99, a 33% discount from last year's Lion, and half what rival Microsoft plans to charge for its upgrade to Windows 8 later this year. The upgrade will be available as a download from the Mac App Store.

Apple has not said whether it will repeat last year's offer of physical media for the upgrade -- in 2011 it sold a USB flash drive containing Lion for $69 -- but those who have slow dial-up connections or metered links to the Internet have other options, including using an Apple retail store's Wi-Fi connection, to download the 3GB+ Mountain Lion file.

People who purchase a new Mac on or after June 11 are eligible for a free upgrade to Mountain Lion. More details will be posted to this page on the company's website once Mountain Lion is released.

Most analysts are expecting big numbers from Apple's earnings report later this month.

Brian Marshall, a financial analyst with ISI, has projected second-quarter numbers that include 28 million iPhones, a 38% increase year-over-year; 14 million iPads, up 51% from the same period in 2011; and 4.4 million Macs, 12% more than last year.

Both Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets and Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities, meanwhile, have pegged Apple's quarterly revenue at $39.2 billion, a 59% year-over-year increase.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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