The OS X 10.7 Cat Is Out There, But Purring Quietly Leading Up To WWDC

Apple’s WWDC event kicks off on Monday with a keynote by CEO Steve Jobs (we’ll be there). There, he’s widely expected to unveil the next generation iPhone, and well as show off more of the new iPhone OS 4.0 software. But this keynote will be a bit odd because the leaked iPhone prototype has already revealed the next generation iPhone, so Jobs may have to do a bit more to wow the crowd. Speculation about what else could be coming is already well underway: iTunes in the cloud? Free MobileMe? A new Apple TV? And then there’s the OS X 10.7 question.

As MacRumors points out today, use of OS X 10.7 within Apple has clearly been on the rise the past few months. I decided to check the TechCrunch logs, and sure enough, we’re seeing the same thing. Hits from the “Intel 10.7” identifier in Google Analytics started coming in October of last year and they’ve been growing ever since. In the past 30 days, we’ve seen a roughly 25% increase (from the previous 30 days) in visits. That said, the jump from March to April was much greater (nearly 100%). Apple is clearly expanding the work on the new OS, but is it ready to be unveiled?

Back in December of last year, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber suggested that OS X 10.7 was on pace to be unveiled at WWDC this year. But he revised that stance in April of this year, saying that work on iPhone OS 4 has taken the front seat and that we may not see OS X 10.7 until WWDC in 2011. With the iPad outselling the Mac, the new iPhone coming out, and the full-on assault from Google Android, it’s undoubtedly true that the emphasis is on iPhone OS. Still, it has been a full two years since OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) was stealthily unveiled at WWDC (but less than a year since it was actually released).

The schedule for WWDC this year shows a major emphasis for iPhone OS as well, and a relatively lighter OS X emphasis. This again seems to suggest no OS X 10.7 at WWDC, unless Apple is purposefully making it seem like there will be no OS X news this year.

We also don’t yet know what big cat nickname OS X 10.7 will get. Lion? Lynx? Cougar?

[photo: flickr/Harlequeen]