Where Is Snow Leopard?

At ladt night’s MacWorld keynote, Apple’s last, one product in particular shone in absense: Mac OS X 10.6, Snow Leopard. Many had expected Apple to give out more details regarding its new operating system, maybe even a release date or a developer preview. Instead, all they got was nothing. Some say it’s a mistake not to show off Snow Leopard now that Windows 7 is stealing all the thunder. Or is it?

Joe Wilcox, of Apple Watch, writes that “Apple has made a strategic error by not getting in front of Microsoft, which is ramping up anti-Mac marketing and building some excitement about Windows 7.” He goes on to explain that “What I’m trying to say is that Apple and Microsoft are vying for the same customers: Windows XP PC users who haven’t moved to Vista.” He continues: “Fewer of the customers will choose to buy Macs during the economic downturn. Meanwhile, Microsoft may have in Windows 7 an attractive alternative to Vista computers and to Macs.”

I actually think it makes perfect sense for Apple not to show off Snow Leopard at this moment. First of all, Windows 7 is about to explode all over the media. There’s no way that Apple will be able to conquer the media headlines with Snow Leopard with Microsoft officially launching the first Windows 7 beta this week. In addition, it’s CES time right now, and Microsoft is sure to show off Windows 7 in Vegas. Apple might be the darling of the media, but there’s only so much that will help in the coming waterfall of Windows 7 media attention.

Secondly, even if they did decide to show it off now – what would they show? What would they woo their customers with? Snow Leopard boasts some impressive under-the-hood changes, and lots of new things for developers, but there’s barely anything in there that would turn the heads of ordinary people. When your main competitor is launching a new release with a revamped interface, fancy touch stuff, and other demonstrable features, and all you have are impressive but nonetheless non-demonstrable features, then it simply doesn’t make sense to try to compete for media attention head-to-head.

No, Apple will demonstrate and launch Snow Leopard when the Windows 7 buzz is at its lowest, or when Microsoft messes something up. It makes no sense to taut Snow Leopard right now, and I’m sure His Steveness is smart enough to see that.


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