“Mac” Dropped from “Mac OS X” – It’s Now Just Called OS X, Does That Matter?

Jun 15, 2011 - 8 Comments

OS X Lion

Apple seems to be pruning the word “Mac” from “Mac OS X” in favor of just “OS X” when it comes to Mac OS X Lion (or rather, OS X Lion). This was originally noticed at the WWDC 2011 keynote and all the subsequent Lion marketing materials on Apple’s OS X website and elsewhere, but we didn’t think much of it other than being a branding exercise for Apple. So why the post about this now? Well, there have been several conspiracy theories propping up in our comments and elsewhere on the web based on the slight name change.

Conspiracy 1: “OS X” Sounds Kind of Like “iOS” Therefore it Must Mean “iOS X”
The prominent theory is that by dropping the Mac from Mac OS X and just calling it OS X, it’s one step closer in name to iOS. Furthermore, the theory goes that we’ll get some merger of OS X and iOS, it’ll be named iOS X, and soon after the world ends just as as the Mayan calendar predicted would happen in 2012 (OK I made that last part up). Additional fuel to the iOS/OS X fire comes from features like LaunchPad in Lion, since it’s admittedly iOS influence coming to the Mac platform.

Conspiracy 2: The Mac is Dead
The other paranoid theory is that by dropping “Mac” from the name “Mac OS X”, the Mac platform must be dead. This then goes into a tailspin of speculation based on the cat naming convention, with Lion being the biggest cat so therefore it must be the last cat and the last Mac OS X, and that the Macs we are using now are the last we’ll ever see before the iPad takes over the desktop.

Reality: The Mac is Alive and Well, DaringFireball to the Rescue
Does dropping Mac from the OS name really matter? The well-connected John Gruber of DaringFireball has decided to chime-in with his thoughts on the matter, and it should dispel some of the paranoia. The most important message from Gruber: “I wouldn’t read too much into this.”

Here’s his full response, in a post titled “Apple Dropping the ‘Mac’ From ‘Mac OS X’?”:

It’s often been referred to colloquially as just plain “OS X” ever since it was announced, but this is the first time Apple has dropped the “Mac” from the name in marketing materials. I have no idea why, but I wouldn’t read too much into this. I think they — where by “they”, feel free to substitute you-know-who — just think it sounds better. And it clarifies that Mac is the hardware, OS X is the software — just like how iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are hardware, and iOS is the software.

Soon after posting that, he updated with some more thoughts that should further clarify the naming convention:

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure the only reason “Mac” was ever put into the name of the OS was for the ill-considered cloning era. Prior to the clones, it was just called “System 7”, “System 6”, etc. They renamed it “Mac OS” so there’d be some sort of Mac involved on machines that themselves could not be called Macs.

Gruber doesn’t specifically mention the conspiracy theories about the Mac operating system, but I think his post clearly aims to address them.

Further Proof… The “Mac” is Still in “Mac OS X” After All
Despite Apple’s recent branding changes regarding Lion, “Mac OS X” as a name is alive and well, and it’s actually all over Mac OS X Lion itself. Here’s a few examples:

Mac OS X Lion

New Mac OS X Login Screen

Keep in mind that Apple is clearly in the midst of rebranding and renaming several other things. Another recent example, AirPort is now called Wi-Fi in Lion, but that doesn’t mean AirPort wireless networking is gone or dying, it’s just called Wi-Fi in the menubar.

So does it matter that “Mac” isn’t in Apple’s new branding for Lion? Not really. You still have a Mac, it’s even still running Mac OS X, Apple is just calling it OS X now. As Gruber says, don’t read too much into it.


Related articles:

Posted by: Matt Chan in Mac OS, News


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  1. brgtt says:

    Largest cat? (I think the siberian tiger is larger than a regular lion) and what of Panthera leo spelaea – or probably more commonly known; the cave lion?

    If people are making paranoid conspiracies atleast know your felines ;P

  2. […] 記事元: “Mac” Dropped from “Mac OS X” – It’s Now Just Called OS X, Does That Matter?. […]

  3. […] Yes, Mac OS X is still called Mac OS X here […]

  4. how says:

    How do you pronunce that?

    Oh sex?

  5. xf says:

    Of course they’re moving to clarify as OS X, Mac OS X is almost redundant. It’s not called iPhone iOS, it’s iOS. Why would it be any different for the Mac?

  6. Jim T says:

    Those of us who have been around for a long long time will recall that the operating system used to just be called “System”. The original Mac had System 1 on it, System 5 introduced MultiFinder to run several apps at once, System 6 was much beloved, etc etc

    So one day I was ran System 7.1.2 through System 7.5.3, then woke up one day and installed MacOS 7.6. I ran that through MacOS 9.(something something), then upgraded to MacOS X, and plan on upgrading to OS X and some point as well.

    It’s always been running on a Mac, and I assume it always will. I’m not concerned.

  7. Mullum says:

    And of course, your site is called OSXDAILY and not Mac OSXDAILY.

  8. ian says:

    I noticed it, didn’t think anything of it then and don’t think anything of it now.

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