• The Tiger Report: Making a Fuss Over What?

    April 30th, 2005

    Understand that the official word on Tiger originally came at Apple’s annual developer conclave, WWDC, in June 2004. Despite that long lead time, only now has a PC-oriented mail order house decided to sue over trademark infringement. This is no April fool’s joke either, but a real action filed by TigerDirect.com.

    TigerDirect? Well, some of you have received the company’s mail order catalogs over the years, and so you might know that it sells both computer hardware and software. No Macs, by the way. As a result, TigerDirect is asking the United States District Court for the District of Florida to grant an injunction halting sales of Mac OS 10.4.

    Now don’t despair. A hearing on the matter won’t occur till next week, so you can still get your copy of Tiger. What’s strange to me is that TigerDirect waited until the absolute last minute to file this action. I would not be so presumptuous as to regard this as more of a publicity stunt than a legitimate legal action. No doubt company really feels that you and I will be confused over the PC boxes and other products sold by TigerDirect and Apple’s newest operating system.

    Oh, give me a break!

    In any case, while the courts busy themselves over the issue and the legal fees mount, the launch of 10.4 is generating an unusual degree of frenzy from the media. You knew that The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal would publish early reviews of Tiger; that’s the operating system, not the mail order dealer of course. But even CNN and USA Today have entered the fray. Apple once again gets a huge amount of attention, far beyond its tiny share of the PC market. But, no, I didn’t see anything at the Fox News Web site. Maybe “fair and balanced” doesn’t include Apple.

    All this fuss harkens back to, shall I say it, the original launch of Windows 95, the operating system that some believe first contributed to Apple’s huge market share decline. So it’s fitting that, nearly a decade later, Apple is truly striking back, although some of you no doubt felt the process had already begun.

    Now it may seem there is no resemblance between the Windows 95 rollout and the publicity campaign over Tiger. But consider this: Windows 95 demonstrated that Microsoft was truly a serious contender in delivering a usable operating system. Sure it came at a time when Apple was messing things up big time, but it helped seal Microsoft’s dominance of the PC universe.

    Now, in the scheme of things, Tiger with its 220 new features isn’t as huge an upgrade as the first version of Mac OS X. But Apple is at the crossroads now. With the iPod flying high, and its computer market share on the upswing once again, the stakes are extremely high. While nobody expects Tiger to be perfect out of the starting gate, at the same time there better not be any show stoppers, such as that bug that trashed FireWire drives in the initial release of Panther.

    Sure, that particular bug was as much a problem with the drive firmware as with Apple’s implementation, but it caused no end of havoc for some people. Imagine the PC convert, finally switching to the Mac after being tempted with the iPod and the Mac mini. One false move, and Apple loses that customer forever. You can’t tell them to wait for 10.4.1, because that will come too late to make a difference.

    But I remain optimistic, and I’m also rather surprised at the extent of demand for Tiger, even among the modest number of consulting clients I still retain. Two of those clients, folks less skilled at handling their Macs, placed their orders as soon as a shipping date was announced. That did not happen with Panther, and we’re talking about people who do not generally spend a lot of time combing Mac Web sites in search of news about the latest and greatest.

    It also augers well for Tiger’s success. On the other hand, as I explained Thursday night in an unexpected appearance on the nationally syndicated Computer America radio show, don’t feel you have to be at the cutting edge, and the first on your block to put a Tiger in your tank. Even if you rushed to buy a copy, put the box in the closet or in a desk and get back to your daily life. Give others a chance to test it out and see if there are any notable bugs that might affect you.

    The news travels fast, and you’ll see a trend within a few days. If the coast is clear, and as I said I’m optimistic that it will be, go for it. At the same time, don’t take the installation process casually. Ace Mac troubleshooter Ted Landau has written an article on the subject that pretty much mirrors my views, except for the one about partitioning the drive. That’s a bit much as far as I’m concerned. Click here to read the article and take away what you can before you dive in.

    And stay tuned for my Tiger review, coming in issue #283 of our weekly newsletter.

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