There are ship dates, and there are "ship dates." For example, technically, the Mac OS X public beta "shipped" last Wednesday; it was officially made available to the public. Well, okay, some of the public-- as in, the public that happened to be at Apple Expo in Paris with thirty bucks (or, we assume, the rough equivalent in Euros) in hand. The rest of us poor shmoes had to place our orders at the Apple Store, which, while painless, doesn't rank quite as high on the scale of instant gratification as forking over a wad of sweaty money and being handed a big white folder with a big blue "X" on it, containing the first public version of the operating system we've all been waiting for since Eisenhower was in office.
So the beta "shipped" last Wednesday. However, our own personal copy didn't ship until Friday evening, if the confirmation email we received from Apple was correct. And we can't be sure that the message was correct, since the FedEx tracking number it included was wrong. Blatantly so, in fact-- whereas FedEx numbers have nine or twelve digits, the tracking number still reported to us at the Apple Store has eighteen. Hmmm... an eighteen-character string beginning with "1Z"... where have we seen that before? Oh, yes-- it's a UPS tracking number. Mystery solved. Except, of course, we still don't know where our copy of the beta is.
For those of you who find yourselves in a similar sitch, MacNN reports that it's only a reporting glitch, and customers who paid for FedEx delivery are indeed getting FedEx delivery-- but the error doesn't exactly inspire confidence. This is on top of the fact that Apple needed two and a half days to ship out a CD-ROM, due to "unanticipated response." According to Mac OS Planet, Apple had rung up over 59,000 orders for the beta as of Friday afternoon-- and had initially only made a thousand copies of the software available for shipment. That may be a new record for under-forecasting, though it's pretty nifty that Apple was able to scrape up more copies to ship only a couple of days later. And if charging thirty bucks for the beta was Apple's attempt to keep the testing pool small, well, it sounds like maybe they should have charged more. In any case, our copy should be arriving today. In theory.
As for the "ship date" of Mac OS X 1.0, well, officially it's still "early 2001." But as we've mentioned in the past, that could technically mean any time up to and including June 30th. Mac OS Rumors alludes to sources claiming an internal release target of "April or May, possibly at WWDC," which we're finding more and more likely, given the crushing weight of feedback Apple is going to receive from the, say, hundred thousand beta testers. Abandon all hope, ye who still think Apple can make a Macworld Expo San Francisco release in early January. And even if Mac OS X "ships" at WWDC, when do you suppose it'll actually ship?