Yeah, but where are the "Top Secret" Leopard features that Steve Jobs promised?

Yeah, but where are the "Top Secret" Leopard features that Steve Jobs promised?

Summary: Typical. I write a post where I actually praise Apple and within minutes of the post going live I start getting emails from Mac fans telling me that they aren't so thrilled by Leopard and feel that Steve Jobs lied to them back at WWDC 2006.


Typical. I write a post where I actually praise Apple and within minutes of the post going live I start getting emails from Mac fans telling me that they aren't so thrilled by Leopard and feel that Steve Jobs lied to them back at WWDC 2006.

A couple of readers pointed me to a post by Chris Howard of Apple Matters (posted this morning) where he doesn't sugar coat the message:

Yay, woohoo, Leopard has finally been announced! Two and a half years after the release of Tiger, that’s an almost Microsoft-esque timeframe by Apple’s standards. You’d expect Leopard to be something special, and, with 300 plus improvements, it must be. However, since Steve’s announcement 14 months ago of “top secret” new features, nothing has materialized to fit that billing. And it’s reasonable that the fans are feeling a little bit let down.

When I read that paragraph the memories started to come flooding back. Apple was worried that Microsoft would "borrow" any new ideas and integrate them into Vista before Leopard hit the stores.

At WWDC 2006, on giving the first preview of Leopard, Steve Jobs promised there were still new features to be revealed that were “top secret.” The allusion was that revealing them would allow the mortal enemy, Microsoft, to copy them (at the last minute) into Vista, which was a few months from release.

In Steve’s own words, courtesy of Engadget, he said from the WWDC 2006 stage, “Today we want to give you a preview of Leopard. First I want to tell you there are some top secret features that we’re keeping close to the chest.”

You know, I really don't want to wade into this whole Apple vs. Mac holy war, but this sounds an awful lot like Microsoft's promise of "cutting-edge programs," "innovative services" and "unique publications" which were going to form part of the Windows Ultimate Extras package for Windows Vista Ultimate users. Howard goes on with the Apple/Microsoft comparisons:

Many commentators are suggesting Apple is becoming more Microsoft-like. The arguments center around Apple’s apparent growing disregard for its own customers. This “top secret” saga adds weight to their arguments. You get the impression Apple thinks it can tell us whatever it likes because we’re gullible, naive, and forgiving. It really smacks of Apple disrespecting its fans.

So, yet another tech executive breaks a promise. The tech industry highway is littered with the wrecks of broken promises and the air is heavy with the noxious small of vaporware. It's also littered with the corpses of companies that made too many promises they couldn't keep, although I don't think Apple has anything to worry about.

However, I am noticing a shift in how Apple views customers. My guess is that the rapid expansion of the Mac user base combined with the insane popularity of products such as the iPod and the iPhone has weakened Apple's reality distortion field (in other words, marketing) and the company is having to adjust to competing under the same level of critical scrutiny as other big tech companies. If you make a promise and don't deliver, expect people to pull you up on it and call you a liar.

Apple used to sell to fans, but now the majority of the user base consists of rgular customers (or consumers) and they're nowhere near as forgiving. Apple's growing up. This is what the hardcore Apple fans have wanted for years. Be careful what you wish for.


Topics: Hardware, Apple, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Just for the record

    I'm going to be brutally honest with this. I have never want Apple to become
    popular. Because that means I'm not as elite anymore, or so the perception goes.
    Seriously. You can't convince people you're better than them for having a Mac as
    well convince them to get a Mac, because then they either think you are a jerk, or
    they do get a Mac and then they are on your level too. That's why I generally keep
    my mouth shut. The so called "hardcore fanboys" that wanted the Mac to go
    mainstream are idiots. They ruined it for me. I will now go back to keeping my
    mouth shut. Thank you.
    • RE: Just for the record

      What a self contradiction. If you think using a particular brand of computer makes you superior you are a fool. The real idiots are the ones who fall for marketing ploys.
  • Standing Corrected

    After MacWorld '07, I wondered in these forums as to
    whether there were to be any secret features and
    asked when Jobs had said it. Now I know, he did say it.

    I haven't used Vista, so I won't speak as to where in
    the world of WOW Tiger, Vista, Leopard, or Gutsy
    Gibbon reside. It was a foregone conclusion that I was
    getting L and GG any way.

    As an Apple user from 1984-1996 and again from
    2001, I think it took too long for Leopard to be
    released. I'm disappointed that Leopard won't run on
    the Luxo Jr. G4 I gave my parents. I also think that, in
    18 months time, the real story of Leopard will be
    about the value of the server product and the way
    developers will use Leopard client frameworks to
    bring innovative applications and application
    interfaces. My feeling is that longtime Apple
    customers will think that the Leopard client is nice but
    not earth-shaking, i.e, it won't really matter if they
    cannot put it on a PowerBook G4 667.

    The core value behind the Apple brand is that the
    company provides devices and systems that do what
    you want with minimum friction. Among the
    cognoscenti, the iPhone tweaks the "do what you
    want" clause. The dichotomy you reference above is
    that the core customers and the mainstream diverge
    on what they want a device to do. This is really going
    to play out among the post-pc dedicated-use devices,
    in that, at their heart, they will be running applications
    sitting on an OS X layer (for example) and an Intel
    processor -- in short, they will be tiny personal
    computers. People who can write programs will be
    frustrated if the device is closed and miffed at the
    destructive cat and mouse game where a choice
    between customized utility and security will be faced
    every few weeks. May I once again reference the
    • Let's wait until the 26th

      and see what the Leopard testers have to say when their
      NDA expires. It may well be that the "300" is the tip of
      what Apple has been doing.

      The same thing probably applies to the iPhone. There
      has already been one significant upgrade (which caused
      some bricks for those with various mods) and I would
      expect some more through January. At that time Apple
      will probably be where they want to be as they have
      announced an iPhone & Touch SDK for release in
      February. Developers focusing on the iPhone are going
      to very happy then.
      • What You Get is What You See (on Apple's page)

        Well, okay Ken, maybe you're right. Just promise me you won't be asking "Where's the
        pony?" on the 27th.
        • What You Get is What You See (on Apple's page)

          "Where's the pony?"

          The pony only grazes after the blue pill!
    • World Didn't Stop

      I am soooo corrected today. The iPhone SDK is on its way.
    • Corrected

      " secret features "

      Oh Please how stipid can people be of course the top secret features are there; but it's a secret.
      Therefore if Apple told you what they were it would not be a secret any longer now would it!
      • Dear Lord

        Grant me spell check!
        • What browser are you using?

          I don't know of ANY browser that doesn't at least have a good 3rd party spell check for input text?
          Are you serious?
          • Teasing ya

            Sorry I was teasing about the spell check I hit enter to fast
  • Soooo......

    What, exactly, is "missing"? What was specifically "promised" that we will not get?
    • Missing the point

      The point isn't that something was promised that we're not getting, like Vista's much-touted new file system. The point is Steve stood up on stage last year and, after going through how amazing Leopard was going to be, told us that we should expect further new feature announcements before all was said and done by claiming that there were features that they were keeping top-secret. To date, there isn't one feature of Leopard as we know it now that we didn't know about after the announcement last year. And, unless we are going to get some sort of surprise feature announcement on October 26th, many will see this as a promise unfulfilled, and be wondering what Apple cut out of the OS to get it to market.
      • Soooo......

        I don't know what I didn't get but I'm mad I didn't get it?

        I don't get it.
      • Here's a Couple

        Neither the ZFS file system, or Resolution Independence were announced features at
        Macworld. ZFS write only has since been verified albeit not officially. Resolution
        independence is rumored. These two alone are core level technologies that hold
        tremendous potential to improve the user experience. Out-of-the-box data
        redundancy, and and end to fixed resolutions will have a profound effect well into
        the future.

        Do doubt these things will not be leveraged in whole or in part by Leopard. If so, do
        you see this as "sufficient"? If not, why not?
        Harry Bardal
        • Problem is that ZFS and resolution independence were being ....

          ... reported on this ite frequently. They were not a secret. Nice try at alibying for Jobs though!
          • But NOT at the original announcement

            They and a few other things were announced later...

            Get it?
          • They were rumored prior to the announcenment.

            get it?
          • Yeah so?

            They weren't mentioned in the keynote, or maybe they were, I don't remember.
            But several OTHER things weren't mentioned that came out LATER, AFTER the

            Seek the buddhistMonkey, he will cure your ignorance youngling.
      • iPhone

        iPhone was _the_ thing that couldn't be talked about when Leopard was first
        announced. Unlike Windows Mobile, OS X Leopard has essentially been extended to
        provide a software bridge to handheld devices. What's that going to mean to end
        users and developers. We'll have to wait until next February to find out, buy expect to
        see tools that rapidly convert desktop apps to handheld apps and new ways of
        leveraging the syncing between handhelds and desktop.
        Len Rooney