Apple is running out of big cats.
Ten years ago, Apple introduced the first major release of its OS X operating system, Cheetah. Since then, all seven new versions of the operating system have been named after big cats.
The cats give the Cupertino,Calif-based company’s software an aura of power, elegance, and beauty. “I tell my students one of the values of wildlife is symbolism,” says Reginald Barrett, a professor of wildlife biology at UC Berkeley. “They use them to sell cars, computers, and God knows what.”
The problem: there are only so many kinds of cats. In March 2001, Apple released Cheetah. In September of 2001, Puma arrived. Jaguar stalked into the market in August 2002. Panther slunk along in October 2003.
Tiger bounded onto the Mac in April 2005. It was the first version of OS X to run on Intel’s processors. Leopard arrived in October 2007. Snow Leopard padded onto the scene in August 2009. That version dropped support for Apple’s older PowerPC processors.
Finally Lion — which incorporates a few tricks learned from Apple’s iPad — was released in July. Apple hasn’t said anything, publicly, about the next version of its OS X operating system.
First they’ll have to come up with a name. That could be hard. All of the animals Applehas used come from Felidae family in the Carnivora order of mammals. Tiger, Lion, Jaguar, and Leopard all come from the subfamily known as Pantherinae. Cheetah comes from the other still-living subfamiily, felinae.
There are a lot of other cats left. None of them are particularly intimidating though. The Eurasian Lynx, can weigh as much as 66 pounds. Even less fearsome: the Eurasian Lynx’s North American cousin, the bobcat; the ocelot — the biggest of the dinky Leopardus genus; and felix catus, the domestic cat.
Apple hasn’t tapped a third group of Felidae, now extinct, known as the Machairodontinae. That subfamily includes smilodon, also known as the ‘saber-toothed cat.’ “That name is so long,” Barrett says. “It seems like they’d want to go with something like Cougar before they went with Smilodon or saber-toothed cat.” More