It’s another cool new product release, and another customer controversy brewing for Apple. The long awaited debut announcement for Mac OSX Leopard has been made, and Internet orders are being accepted now, with the product scheduled to arrive at doorsteps on Friday, October 26th.
At the same time, Apple appears to be iPhoning its customers once again, punishing its most loyal clients by offering them absolutely nothing in terms of free or discounted pricing on Mac OSX Leopard, if they purchased a new Mac in August or September of 2007. The seven new Mac desktops that were unveiled on August 7, 2007, shipped with Mac OSX Tiger.
With the release of Mac OSX Leopard just around the corner, many customers that bought a new Mac in August or September expected a free upgrade, or at the very least, a special upgrade price for Leopard. Barring an unexpected of change of heart from Steve Jobs, though, that will not happen. Apple has announced that only those who bought a new Mac in October will get OSX Leopard for free, less a small ($9.95) service charge.
Apple’s decision here is indeed reminiscent of the recent iPhone fiasco. Faithful customers that stood in line and waited (often for over 24 hours) to buy an iPhone on the day that it was released paid $600. Those who waited a couple months before purchasing were rewarded with a $200 price cut. An almost identical situation now exists with Leopard. Loyal Apple customers that purchased new Macs in August and September will have to pay full price for Leopard, while those that waited a couple of months - until October 1st - will get the $9.95 upgrade pricing.
Does Steve Jobs have some secret business vision that none of us can comprehend, or has he just reached the point of being so successful that he’s taking his most devoted customers for granted? Only time will give us the answer to that one, but in my opinion, it’s the latter.
The OSX Leopard Desktop
Despite the questionable business decisions and customer appreciation questions, Apple’s engineers appear to be right on the money with this new release. Leopard boasts over 300 enhancements compared to OSX Tiger.
The most obvious change is to the Desktop, which now features a 3D, semi-transparent, reflective Dock. The Dock is also more functional now, with each Dock icon able to display "stacks", which are groups of icons that can be customized to display in a number of attractive and convenient ways. There are also both functional and aesthetic changes to the Finder, iChat, and Safari, and an interesting new feature called Time Machine, which endeavors to bring a new level of power and convenience to the backup/restore process.
OSX Leopard’s Time Machine