So we’re just starting to pack for WWDC now, and as our last post for a while probably (since anything that’s actually got us excited next week will probably be under heavy NDA) we’ll just go out on a limb with a rather out there but we think logical prediction for Monday’s keynote.
See, our Impeccable Sources™ in the Apple world have been dropping hints that there’s something Big And Unexpected up for announcement, which is not directly related to the iPhone in particular nor hardware of any kind in general. If they’re not just teasing to wind up our curiosity to fever pitch — which is hardly inconceivable, we grant you, in which case after the keynote feel free to laugh your head off at how well that worked for them — what could it be? This .mac to .me reworking thing? Naah, we don’t see that qualifying as either particularly Big or in the slightest Unexpected.
Well, after pondering it, we think we just might have an idea. You’ve all heard about this “Snow Leopard” thing, no doubt. Well, we believe there actually is a “Snow Leopard” project, which quite likely will be revealed on Monday, but it’s not going to be 10.6 like most everyone is assuming, because that would be a different cat — there’s no way Apple would not rebrand the OS name for a full point release. For the same marketing-related reasons, we’ll proceed to assume that this code name is not disinformation of any kind. So there’s something bubbling and simmering in Apple’s labs that’s recognizably “Leopard”, but distinctly different enough from the shipping Mac OS X 10.5 to merit a separate yet connected brand.
Right then, the next wide assumption is that the dropping of “Mac” from the “OS X Leopard” posters in Moscone implies that there’s going to be a non-Mac OS X Leopard for generic PCs, and that would be Snow Leopard. We’re pretty sure we can dismiss that one as well. Apple’s revenue numbers just don’t make that idea work, however you slice it. And when even all the PC magazines universally agree that Mac laptops are the best for running Vista, there appears to be no reason to defocus from shipping machines.
So what, then, is “Snow Leopard”? Well, to answer that, let us put on our thinking caps. What is the one feature that developers were most upset about losing in OS X — before it was actually named OS X, in fact? The feature that Apple has a clear and compelling reason to bring back now, in order to further increase the pool of developers familiar with Mac and iPhone programming concepts? The feature that did, indeed, actually ship from Apple on the Rhapsody DR1/Intel Developer CDs? The feature which if released on Monday would be a perfect fit for the “Snow Leopard” moniker? Well, here’s what we say it is:
Yep, that’s our call: “Snow Leopard” is the return of Yellow Box. Except that the point of it this time around is not only, or even mostly, to allow Mac Cocoa programmers to deliver Windows applications — although it’s pretty likely that will be supported — but to let Windows users who for whatever reason can’t get a Mac of their own to develop iPhone programs using the same Cocoa-written toolchain that supports iPhone development on real Macs.
You heard it here first, folks!
Hmmmmm. It appears that the only non-NDA’d information y’all who aren’t here is gettin’ is that yes, there actually is a “Snow Leopard” project, His Jobness stated, and us here is gonna hear all about it after lunch, in an NDA’d session. So it’s not completely impossible yet that we’re on to something here — but the smart money is that probably, contrary to all previous practice, the rumours about “Snow Leopard” being simply a rather boring 10.6 version are indeed correct, and the Big Important Thing that had been hinted at was indeed Mobile Me, aka “Exchange that doesn’t suck”. Ah well.
We’re quite sure there’ll be no shortage of people willing to violate their NDAs so you won’t have to wait until tomorrow even to find out the exact specs of “Snow Leopard” somewhere else — but as far as this particular legally correct NDA-respecting space goes, we’ll just have to leave the discussion at “probably a bad guess but we’ll know for sure in an hour.” Ah well. Can’t always have everything you want, and we’re pretty happy with how the iPhone 3G turned out!
Well, although this speculation turned out to be completely wrong, we actually were not completely off-base in identifying Apple’s interests and goals we figure; we just weren’t thinking outside the box enough in figuring that resurrecting Yellow Box was how to go about it. See this post for what we’re thinking now!