Trying to keep up with the Apple cats

I am still a few cats behind with my iMac. I limped along with Tiger for many years and even now I’m trailing a whole Lion away from Mountain Lion.

If you’re not a Mac user you probably have no clue what I’m on about. The cats I’m referring to are computer operating systems. Where Microsoft had Windows XP and Windows Vista, Apple had Cheetah and Leopard. A different cat has been named for each new Apple operating system since 2001.

The Mountain Lion operating system was released last year. Ever since then I’ve been wondering what their next cat will be.  They’ve already done Lion. They’ve worked their way through pumas, panthers, jaguars, tigers and leopards. They’re out of big cats.

Where to next? Branding is a serious business, especially when your company is named after a piece of fruit.

News from the tech universe suggests the next Apple system will be code named Cabernet. It will be unveiled on 10 June at the 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The annual Apple product unveiling always provokes a fizz of excitement amongst online techno babblers. They blog themselves giddy over this year’s new features, even if it’s just to say there’s nothing particularly exciting about this year’s new features.

None of this excitement ever trickles down to me. I find the constant innovation of technology exhausting. I don’t have an iPad or a laptop. We don’t yet have Wi-Fi at home, let alone a suite of integrated mobile solutions. My brother in law looked at me very strangely when he realized our computer is still attached to a cable.

I’ll catch up eventually, just in time to miss the next leap forward. It’s an expensive habit, living in the first world.

Fortunately, as a lover of words and ideas, I can still enjoy keeping up with the branding spectacle. So Apple is leaving the cats behind. They’re bringing their brand indoors and suiting up with a bit of suave Cabernet. Now they can arbitrarily rank wines instead of animals.

Let’s face it, the poor cats were ranked unfairly. The cheetah is the fastest land mammal in the world but Apple superseded it with a puma. According to Apple’s upgrade logic, leopards are better than tigers. On what basis? What has the leopard ever done for the world except to change its spots? Imagine The Jungle Book without Shere Khan. Tigers are way cooler. No one says, “Go get ‘em, leopard.”

The most sensible name change was Lion. The lion is the king of the beasts. He’s Aslan, he’s Simba, he’s the lion in the meadow. Lion is the top dog.

But then Apple brought in Mountain Lion. That’s not an upgrade, it’s a trip into banjo country. I’m pretty sure even Lassie could beat a mountain lion in her time.

Apple might muddle their cats, but Microsoft’s naming scheme is all over the place.

Microsoft began a numerical sequence back in the 80s. After Windows 3 they had a brief fling with dating which gave us names like Windows 95 and 98. Then there was a detour into Windows XP and Windows Vista, as though they were releasing a series of cars. Since then they’ve veered back to the numbers with Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Obviously they should name their next release Windows Blue, because that makes sense.

It’s all about as logical as asking a bottle of wine to supersede a mountain lion.

At least Apple will probably stick to their drinks for a while. Perhaps they will work their way through the red wine until they reach the top shelf. If I still have an iMac in a few years, I will be able to upgrade from Cab Sav to Shiraz. That will set me up for Single Malt.

Maybe by then I will even have Wi-Fi.


First published in Bay of Plenty Times 31 May 2013. Reproduced with permission.