The Leopard That Slipped On An iPhone

Okay, now that the panic's all over, I have a couple of things to say. There's honestly not much to add to Daniel Jalkut's commentary and John Gruber's comeback (which are the most lucid pieces I've found on the matter), but there are a few things that I have to publicly agree (or disagree) with:

  • Apple really ought to go global (and a position in Cork doesn't cut it, guys). Regardless of their usual "überclassified" approach to product development, putting all your eggs in one basket (or not having enough hens) is stifling to any company's ability to build product, regardless of the way you manage resources. Not to mention that you lose touch with the realities of life outside the US (one would expect Apple to "think differently" when it comes to dealing with a global market, but so far they're just doing what every other US company does - pull in people).
  • Building a phone is hard. I've written time and again on how hard it is and how much Apple would need to learn (especially in the early days when the iPhone rumors were squarely on the "bullshit" level), and considering that I've been involved in testing at least a couple of hundred phone models and variants and that most of the modern devices go through something like four to seven firmware versions before they are ready to be sold, I don't blame Apple for diverting resources to the iPhone team.
  • That said, John Gruber may yet be correct when he says that we'll be getting some sort of new Mac OS X version in June. Even considering that a runtime kernel for a mobile device is a very different beast from a desktop OS and that we know (in fact) zilch about what kind of people Apple saw fit to re-allocate, the "key software engineering and QA resources" bit in their statement makes perfect sense to me - the QA part doubly so considering my second point.
  • I don't buy anyone's take about Apple TV being that much of an extra development effort to Apple's OS group, especially not considering that it is a nearly vanilla Tiger that was hacked to pieces days after people got their hands on the boxes - the copious file listings and kernel extension lists detailing the difference between an Apple TV and "stock" Mac OS X point to a lot of user-level stuff (apps and frameworks), not extensive kernel development.
  • Finally, as a user, I'm actually glad Leopard ships later, since every "gold" release of Panther and Tiger felt like a beta after the novelty wore off - after all, we did go all the way up to 10.3.9 (and are now at 10.4.9), not because of amazing new features or added functionality, but because (and people keep forgetting this) Apple also ships buggy operating systems. Not as catastrophically as some other companies (I will be reverting my work laptop to XP pretty soon, and will have a say on the whys later on), but the bottom line is that I don't want to upgrade to another flea-ridden cat.

So I'm going to sit tight and wait to see what Apple will end up shipping and when - speculating on the reasons why Apple does things and the outcomes seems to be a lot of people's favorite pastime right now (not to mention the main revenue stream for click-hungry rumor-mongers), but I'm still of two minds regarding the iPhone (and increasingly skeptical about Leopard's "top secret" features), and see no point in adding to the mass hysteria.

When either of them are done, we'll all pass judgment - until then, please settle down, you're clogging my RSS feeds.