Following the quick coverage of the new iPod double-shuffle, Steve Jobs moved into current news, announcing that at long last the new version of its Mac OS X operating system is ready, and will be coming soon to a retail outlet near you. (OK, so that’s not really news.) Mac OS X 10.4 will be available in stores and online starting at midnight, 22-Apr-05.
In a surprise move, Apple revealed that the official name for this release would be “Mac OS X 10.4 Wombat.” Even though Apple has been referring to this version of Mac OS X for over a year as Tiger, has distributed seeds to developers under the code name Tiger, and has portrayed a “Tiger fur” motif in the logo and in desktop screen shots, at the last minute, all of that was scrapped, and the Wombat designation was substituted. (Apple’s Web sites referring to Mac OS X as Tiger have not yet been altered, and apparently won’t be until after the product is in customers’ hands.)
The purpose of this change, according to Steve Jobs in a post-conference question session, was to “stick it to those know-it-all rumor Web sites such as ThinkSecret.” Jobs was particularly proud of the fact that a wombat isn’t even a big cat, unlike previous Mac OS X code names such as Jaguar and Panther. “We knew those rumor sites would never be able to guess this one, not in a million years. It’s not a cat! It’s not even fierce!” said Jobs. “It’s one of those cute little marsupials from Australia.” Asked about how this change might be expected to impact developers who have already prepared software that is “Tiger-ready” and publishers who have already announced books with the name “Tiger” in the title, Jobs said: “They’ll get over it.” He was also dismissive of the question of how the sales of Mac OS X might be impacted by a name that, in Australia at least, can be a way of calling someone a bozo. After all, Jobs noted, wombats in captivity are easily house-trained and come when called – which, as he said, “will be true of Mac OS X 10.4 Wombat as well, thanks to its Automator feature.”