On Thursday night Apple pulled Mountain Lion out of a hat. A select number of journalists and bloggers had been given early access to a developer’s preview version for about a week and kept them quiet. These lucky ones got to see Apple’s next major operating system for the Mac and all of them published their reviews almost at the same time, giving Apple maximum coverage on the web and surprising everyone else.
Unlike in years past, Apple this time did not reveal its upcoming Mac OS X version on stage in front of a large audience with full press coverage. Instead it did things very differently.
As John Gruber noted in his impression of the unveiling, Apple’s Phil Schiller told him that Apple was starting to do things differently. Like not giving early access to New York Times for one.
David Pogue was once among Apple’s most favored journalists but not this time as Apple shunned the Times for its scathing series of reports on the working conditions of Foxconn’s factories in China which made Apple’s products.
Apple had staged a press event for the education sector a few weeks ago in New York and is expected to do another one for the next version of iPad in early March. If it had done another one for Mountain Lion, it would have had three events in three months and could be seen as cheapening the value of its press gatherings. Apple hasn’t had press conferences for Mac product releases in a while either as the current versions of the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks were silent updates to the Apple Online Store.
Apple will definitely talk about Mountain Lion at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Francisco in June and that is when it will get its stage time. Mountain Lion comes a year after Lion when nobody was expecting an update until 2013 since Lion took nearly two years after Snow Leopard.
From 2001 to 2003 Apple had released yearly upgrades for Mac OS X but it took longer to release Tiger in 2005 and since then, new versions had been released approximately every year and a half. It looks like Apple is now hoping to catch the momentum of the iPhone and iPad and bring the Mac back in the spotlight.
Additionally, while Apple had started calling its Mac operating system as OS X instead of Mac OS X with Lion, it took until Mountain Lion to finally drop Mac from the About This Mac display. The Mac name will obviously still be used for its hardware products, Apple is just differentiating the OS from the computers.
As I noted in my post about Tim Cook’s speech at a Goldman Sachs conference being streamed by Apple, it was a clear sign that Apple was beginning to institute a different policy with regards to public engagements. Phil Schiller’s statement to John Gruber only confirmed that.
Shortly after posting this I found out that David Pogue was indeed among the early group of people given access to Mountain Lion but of course, I was already on a trip out of town with little access to the internet and almost no way of editing this post. Gruber especially noted some time later that Pogue was the next person to be briefed after him.