Analysts are predicting yet more big things for Apple. But this time they're not talking about the iPod. Or the iPhone. This time, it's all about the Mac.

Getting ready for Leopard

Figures announced last week by analyst Gartner showed Apple with an 8.1 per cent US market share for the third quarter this year, beating Toshiba and Gateway into third place behind HP and Dell. Mac sales grew by 37.2 per cent, double the industry average.

"The Macintosh has a lot of momentum now," enthused Steve Jobs of the stats. "It is outpacing the industry." Jobs' comments were reported by the New York Times ahead of Friday's launch the latest version of OS X - Leopard.

Read: Apple grabs 8.1% of PC sales

From what we've seen Leopard's feature set is impressive and would appear to match Windows Vista for polish and function at almost every level. But it won't necessarily make you run out and buy a new Mac.

Despite the enhanced feature set, analysts predict Leopard won't have a direct effect on sales of new Macs - rather like Vista hasn't boosted PC sales the way it was predicted to.

Jobs sees regular Mac upgrades

There's no doubting the Mac still reserves a special place in Jobs' heart. Despite the all-conquering nature of the iPod, Jobs gives the impression at each keynote he delivers that he'd love to see a Mac in every classroom and every home. And he seemed to play down reports of a break between this version of OS X and the next generation of the Mac OS.

"I'm quite pleased with the pace of new operating systems every 12 to 18 months for the foreseeable future," continued Jobs. Apple has become renowned for its pace of development that compares favourably to Windows Vista's five year-plus gestation period.

Jobs also couldn't resist a dig at Microsoft's latest OS, saying "everybody gets the Ultimate edition [of Leopard]." Of course Jobs is implying that, unlike Windows releases, Leopard is only available in one flavour for £85. He would, however, seem to be forgetting about the five-user license and server versions. Details, details...

Mac OS X Leopard is released on Friday 26 October. We'll be bringing you our first impressions of the system then, as well as installing it on Macs new and old.