John Gruber’s take on OS X Mountain Lion is just as much about the way it was presented to those of us in the press:
Handshakes, a few pleasantries, good hot coffee, and then, well, then I got an Apple press event for one. Keynote slides that would have looked perfect had they been projected on stage at Moscone West or the Yerba Buena Center, but instead were shown on a big iMac on a coffee table in front of us.
But this, I say, waving around at the room, this feels a little odd. I’m getting the presentation from an Apple announcement event without the event. I’ve already been told that I’ll be going home with an early developer preview release of Mountain Lion. I’ve never been at a meeting like this, and I’ve never heard of Apple seeding writers with an as-yet-unannounced major update to an operating system. Apple is not exactly known for sharing details of as-yet-unannounced products, even if only just one week in advance. Why not hold an event to announce Mountain Lion — or make the announcement on apple.com before talking to us?
That’s when Schiller tells me they’re doing some things differently now.
My first question after the presentation wrapped up was the same: why announce Mountain Lion this way instead of a big press event?
The answer I got was much more vague and more along the lines of “not sure” or “we didn’t think about it”. It also wasn’t coming from Phil Schiller.
I think Gruber is right in that Apple wants to keep their events sacred, and the only way to do that is to limit them. Had they done an event for Mountain Lion, it would have been three events back-to-back-to-back in a short amount of time (iBooks -> Mountain Lion -> iPad 3).
Given the fact that Mountain Lion, while it has some big, important changes, is more of a incremental upgrade also undoubtedly played into this. As did the knowledge that they’ll probably talk about the software again at WWDC in June (the Mountain Lion launch isn’t set until “late summer”).
With Lion, Apple essentially gave a preview of the software twice — once at the unveiling in October 2010, and then again at WWDC 2011. It seemed a bit redundant.
This time, only a few members of the press saw the first unveiling. I suspect everyone else will (with a few new additions) at WWDC.
I also think this way of doing things leads to better stories about the software. During a big keynote, all of us would have been rushing to file as quickly as possible. That leads to sloppy work largely repeating (and often mis-repeating) what was said on stage. This way, we got to use the software and to think about it for a week before actually writing about it.