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Apple's Mountain Lion Master Plan

Stocks in this article: AAPL BIDU YOKU

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) gave consumers and investors another glimpse into its master plan on Thursday, unveiling a preview version of its new OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion.

While Apple zealots are eagerly anticipating new hardware in 2012 such as the iPad 3, iPhone 5, and even a TV offering, the company's software strategy has attracted much less attention. Mountain Lion, though, will prove crucial in bringing Apple's gadgets to a wider audience, according to Mike Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity.

Apple unveiled a preview version of its new Mountain Lion OS on Thursday.

"It makes it easier for people that use one Apple product to use another one," explained Walkley. "It's a logical step to make the complete platform approach."

OS X Mountain Lion is the ninth release of Apple's Mac operating system, and brings apps and features from the iPad and iPhone to the Mac platform. Mountain Lion, for example, extends iOS apps such as Messages and Game Center to the Mac, and also offers tight integration with Twitter and Apple's own iCloud service.

Launched last year, iCloud was the first indication of Apple's plan to grow its business way beyond the latest, greatest, gadgets. The launch pad for services like streaming media and storing data, iCloud opens up lucrative new revenue streams for the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm.

More than 100 million users have iCloud accounts, according to Apple, which says that Mountain Lion will make it easier for customers to set up the service and access documents across their devices.

Mountain Lion bodes well for the company's Mac sales, according to Walkley.

"This makes Mac much easier to adopt," he explained. "We're already seeing Mac grow much faster than the market."

The tech giant has often talked about the 'halo effect' whereby users of one Apple product are more likely to buy another Apple device, such as iPod users buying iPhones, and, more recently, iPads. Mountain Lion could thus extend this 'halo effect' all the way to the desktop, taking Apple's Mac sales to new levels.

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