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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Can't we all just get along? Some thoughts about the Leopard delay

So, one might think that I'd be jumping all over this Leopard delay and ridiculing Apple for its previous hypocritical attacks on the oft-delayed Microsoft Windows Vista. The truth is, I'm saddened that it's come to this. I actually care quite a bit about Mac OS X and see troubling signs from Apple that the Mac is becoming the Apple II of this decade--yeah, it still makes money, but the company has clearly moved on to a new future, in this case, a future of consumer electronics devices and services.

But there are two points I'd like to make. One, the Mac community, for the most part, has given Apple a total pass on this delay, and that's something they were unable to do with Microsoft. Witness a few typical headlines from the Mac apologists:

- The Leopard Report: Exaggerating the Impact of 10.5's Delay

- Apple Delays Leopard, Sky Doesn't Fall

- Leopard delays - What's the big deal?

Now, to be fair, there are some exceptions. The Mac Observer's John Martellaro wrote a nice piece describing the leadership failure that resulted in this delay. Actually, Martellaro does a nice job of explaining the luck that led to Apple's current position in the market, but that's another story. I'm just happy to see a Mac-centric publication (albeit one of many that focuses today largely on the iPod as well) be so realistic. Good for them.

Secondly, this delay has been a long time coming. Witness the following parade of OS X-related setbacks and delays, in chronological order:

"We're slowing [the development pace of OS X] down a little bit ... because that's not a sustainable rate."
-- Then Apple CTO Avie Tevanian, May 2004, referring to Apple's previous policy of shipping annual OS X updates. Previous to Tiger, every OS X update came out about a year after the previous release. Tiger shipped a year and a half after Panther. Leopard will now ship a full two and a half years after Tiger.

"We intend to release Leopard at the end of 2006 or early 2007 right around the time when Microsoft is expected to release Longhorn. So that's what the future looks like."
-- Apple CEO Steve Jobs, keynote address at WWDC 2005, June 2005

"Leopard will ship this spring."
-- Apple CEO Steve Jobs, keynote address at WWDC 2006, August 2006, referring to spring 2007, or the time period between April 1 and June 30, 2007.

"So, 2007 is going to be a great year for the Mac. But this is all we’re going to talk about the Mac today. We’re going to move on."
-- Apple CEO Steve Jobs, keynote address at Macworld 2007, January 2007. Jobs said absolutely nothing about Leopard at the company's only major Macintosh tradeshow event of the year. In fact, he never uttered the word "Leopard" even once during the two hour address.

"We will not be able to release Leopard at our Worldwide Developers Conference in early June as planned. We now plan to ... ship Leopard in October [2007]."
-- Apple statement, April 2007

What does this all mean? To me, it says that Apple's posturing has finally caught up with it. I've often argued that Apple made great products but could be a spiteful bully, and that its hard core fans have emulated that style in their dealings with people who disagreed with them. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, I won't stoop to that level. But this is a nice chance for the Apple community to adopt a humbler approach in their dealings with the outside world. Making an operating system is hard, and we can and should cut Apple some slack when there are problems. Maybe Apple and its fans could extend the same courtesy.

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[ Posted at 12:36 PM | Permalink ]


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