Why Apple Dropped “Mac” From OS X Mountain Lion [Opinion]


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Apple has included a more subtle, yet very important, change in OS X Mountain Lion that points to the company’s focus moving forward. If you open the “About This Mac” window in the Mountain Lion developer preview, you’ll notice that “Mac” has been dropped for a simpler “OS X.” The prefix has also been dropped from promotional materials on Apple.com and the Mac App Store.

Why the change to just “OS X Mountain Lion?” Apple is continuing to blur the line between hardware and software. It’s about the unification of iOS and the desktop experience.

By dropping “Mac” from Mountain Lion, Apple subliminally disassociates OS X from desktop hardware. As we’ve already shown you in great detail today, Mountain Lion is packed with apps and features that originated from iOS 5. iMessage is on the Mac. Notification Center is on the Mac. Notes, Reminders, AirPlay, and more have been ported to the desktop. The average consumer with an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will have no trouble getting used to Mountain Lion because much of OS X is now shared with iOS. It’s what Apple does best: a unified experience.

I’m not saying that iOS and OS X will be one in the same anytime soon, but don’t be surprised when it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the two apart with each new OS X release. Apple introduced an iOS Home screen-like interface in OS X Lion with Launchpad, and the striking similarities between the two platforms continue to accumulate. OS X Lion started the trend, and Apple has officially signaled the convergence of desktop and mobile today.

Will Apple ever unite the name iOS and OS X? Probably. But not until the platforms are identical. It could happen in 3 years, or 5, or 10. iOS is becoming more featured-packed while OS X is getting simpler. That’s not a coincidence.

Apple is a software company first and a hardware company second. The software that guides Apple’s decision making is clearly iOS, because that’s where the majority of the Mac’s new features come from and, more importantly, that’s where the money is. The iPhone and iPad account for the majority of Apple’s business, so it makes total sense for OS X to ride the coattails of iOS.

Innovation is still happening in OS X, but there’s not a lot more that can be done to such a robust OS. The Mac is already the world’s most advanced consumer computer in terms of both software and hardware, so how do you make it better? You simplify the software by integrating it with the iOS experience and you continue to lead the industry with cutting-edge industrial design. That’s exactly what Apple is doing, and it’s paying off big time.

[teaser-top]And what it means for the future.[/teaser-top]
[teaser-featured]And what it means for the future.[/teaser-featured]

  • Marc CK Lai

    They should make it mOS X like what they just did to iPhoneOS

  • Chan Kin Hou

    I would say Apple is hardware company first and software company second. The main bulk of their revenue comes from hardware sales. And they charge peanuts for their OS X compared to Windoze.

  • wnyang

     OS updates are cheap but the resulting commissions from media and app sales are plenty.  There’s also iCloud, itunes Match, etc. The more you love the OS, the more you will rely on their entire ecosystem.

  • Fabio Papa

    Anybody else notice the recent progression of OS names?

    Leopard –> Snow Leopard
    Lion –> Mountain Lion

    Seems to follow their iOS software and hardware releases (major release –> minor release).

  • volodoscope

    Because they are slowly merging with iOS

  • volodoscope

    I sure hope 10.9 will be Snow Mountain.

  • Dan kamp

    Apple has ALWAYS been a hardware company first who wrote great software for it’s hardware.


    iOS X. You know you want it. 

  • Jordan Clay

    They are beginning to drop the Mac and the iPod moniker…everything I know is changing.

  • imajoebob

    How does dropping the “Mac” further blur the line between hardware and software?  It does exactly the opposite: it draws a big red line between the two.  Mac OS X was an integral part of the Mac computer.  iOS is an integral part of the iPhone/iPad/iPod.  This operating system is the first to stand alone, independent of any association with a machine.

  • twitter-218300945

    Well Microsoft has not supported some versions that our massive PC room for work have in them, also elderly parents who can’t afford and don’t want to upgrade, they are doing just fine

  • c.t

    I thought of that like 1 year ago.

  • c.t

    What’s next? They’ll be called Book Pro’s and Air’s?

  • Eric

     After Mountain Lion, they would have exhausted all the big cat names.  Maybe they will start on birds of prey. ;-)

  • Jeremy May

     I really don’t agree with your statement that OS X is getting simpler. It is borrowing features created for a simpler OS, but that does not make it a simple system. My iMac didn’t lose any functionality with Lion (aside from the removal or replacement of previously useless services, or bugs, which are not symptoms of “iOSification”). OS X is only gaining from this integration.

    Some people seem to see these integrations and the changes they point to as the end of the desktop computer as we know it. That is just not the case. There will never be a single OS spanning everything from a portable music player to a professional desktop computer. Even if they are called the same thing, there will still be different versions for each device. Apple would never be so stupid as to purposefully dumb down a desktop OS just to make a unified experience.

    Sure, in 10 or 20 years we might be at a point where portable tablets are virtually indistinguishable from desktops and laptops, but that will not mean that our Macs have been turned into big heavy iPads. It will mean that our iPads are basically touchscreen laptops (if Apple would just let it happen and stop trying to be so controlling, we might be there not so long from now).

    So what I am trying to say is: chill out people. Your Mac is not going anywhere. It’s little brother is just growing up.

  • prof_peabody

    They exhausted all the big cat names a while ago or haven’t exhausted them at all (depending on how you look at it).  

    A “Snow Leopard” is not really a different animal than a regular “Leopard” after all and a Mountain Lion is just a Cougar.  Also a Panther is a Leopard by another name and a Cougar (Mountain Lion) is also a type of Panther. 

    Additionally, a Jaguar is just a black Panther and the humble house cat is a “big name” cat that hasn’t been used anyway.  

  • OS2toMAC


  • ilpappas

     we all did!

  • Chris Davis

    I think we are going to see touch screen macs soon. Makes sense to me

  • Shaunathan Sprocket


    Volodoscope has won the comment of the day award.

  • Gavin Asay

    Touch screen is all well and good, but it’s really not, in my opinion, the best option for a desktop computer. Holding your arm up to the screen for a long time would cause a lot of fatigue in not a lot of time. Touch screen desktops are feasible now, but not really practical. That’s why we have the multi-touch pads on a horizontal surface – it’s more suited to extended use. Touch screen are great for ATMs; I wouldn’t go for it on my computer.

  • Kelvin Smith

    The whole “i” line of products line references iOS, Mac OS does the same. OS X just defeats that. mOS makes it sound like moss.

  • Kelvin Smith

    I want them to do everyday objects. Like spoon.

  • Jonathan Ober

    and then Candy Mountain!

  • Bridger Lowe

    I want them to do names of apples next. Imagine OS X Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Grannysmith, Macintosh, etc.

  • Caspian

    Their unification OS will be nicknamed “Kitten” and subsequent update will be “House Kitten”.

  • Caspian

    That’s Google…

  • Unis Zuurmond

    iOS Mobile, and iOS Mac.

  • Jon Aanestad

    My only thought about this is that the name itself no longer limit itself to macs. I fear, although I doubt it, that they come up with a stupid idea to license the software to other manufacturers. 
    Either that, or it’s just a way of making every aspect of their products simpler. Remove anything that isn’t necessary. iOS, OSX. Three letters, clean, simple. Opinions?

  • Robert Simmons

     Anyone else notice? They’re not making a secret of it

  • Jeremy May

    Shortening the name for the sake of elegance seems much more likely to me than the idea that dropping “Mac” signifies a single OS across all hardware.

  • Matt Taylor

    maybe this mean we can run Os X on non Mac hardware…

  • Cristián Arenas Ulloa

    Right, just imagine them naming something “Macintosh”, wouldn’t that be new and exciting?

  • Cristián Arenas Ulloa

    iPhone OS -> iOS
    Mac OS X -> OS X

    If they eventually converge as many people like to think, following the trend of removing stuff and making it simpler… The next name will *obviously* be:


  • woodye85741


  • woodye85741

    Mac (OS) Ocelot

  • woodye85741

    a rebirth from the os, otherwise known as the v*gina