updated 06:20 pm EDT, Mon July 18, 2011
Apple stores get drives with Lion images onboard
Beliefs Apple will release Lion this week grew Monday night after scoops both at MacRumors and our own sources that stores were getting Lion installs. The retail outlets are getting images of the new OS on hard drives to upgrade the demo systems to the new OS as soon as they're ready. Stores have also been getting new display material.
On the back end of Apple's infrastructure, AppleCare reps in Canada and the US have reportedly finished training to support Lion as of the start of the week.
While the information doesn't amount to direct confirmation of Lion this week, it suggests that virtually all the pieces are in place for the rumored availability. Apple doesn't need to stock copies of the OS and can organize a launch much faster than it did in 2009 for Snow Leopard.
At least a new MacBook Air and possibly new Mac minis could ship this week to help kick off the release. Both would see major leaps in performance by upgrading from aging Core 2 Duos to 2011 Core processors and should catch up in hardware, such as 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSDs minimum on the new Airs and likely storage and RAM upgrades on the Mac minis as well. Thunderbolt ports should come standard, matched closely to a new Thunderbolt-equipped LED Cinema Display that Apple itself inadvertently leaked late last week.