When Apple unexpectedly announced OS X Mountain Lion this morning, they trumpeted a host of new features. Mountain Lion is getting Messages (which is already available in beta), Reminders, and Notification Center from iOS. It’s getting Gatekeeper for security. It’s getting deep Twitter integration. One change that Apple didn’t talk about, though, was the new software’s name. The change is so subtle that a lot of early reporting – my own included – missed it: Mountain Lion isn’t “Mac OS X” anymore. It’s just OS X. Apple has carefully – and completely without fanfare – dropped the “Mac” branding from OS X. They’ve been so thorough, in fact, that there are no references to “Mac OS X” even on Apple’s pages concerning Lion, the current version of OS X. You have to go to the online Apple Store and look for Snow Leopard (10.6) to find any the phrase to “Mac OS X.”
The change was first noticed by David Connell of Techmeme, who posted about it on Twitter:
It’s OS X, not Mac OS X twitter.com/david_connell/…
— David Connell (@david_connell) February 16, 2012
It’s not clear what, if anything, this change signals. What is clear is that the “Mac” branding now appears to apply only to hardware, and not to software. The last time Apple separated a software’s branding from its associated hardware was when they renamed iPhone OS to iOS in 2009 with the launch of the iPhone 3GS (and iOS 3). The reason for that change became clear a few months later with the launch of the iPad and the Apple TV 2, both of which run iOS as well. What this change means, if anything, is anybody’s guess at this point. Apple could have some major new product in the works that will run OS X but will not be a Mac computer, or they could be preparing to re-brand the Mac computer line, or they could just want to differentiate hardware and software branding. At this point, any speculation would be about as reliable as shaking a Magic 8 Ball.
What do you think this change in branding means? Does it mean anything at all? Sound off in the comments.