The Five Stages of Leopard Delay Grief

The process by which people deal with grief and tragedy is marked by five stages. And with Apple recently announcing the delay of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard until October, Mac users are currently going through those stages (some faster than others).

Stage 1: Denial

“I’m reading this on a rumor site, so this news can’t be real. And this rumor made the rounds about a month ago, so it’s probably just the old story showing up as new in my feed reader. Plus, Apple already counteracted that rumor and officially said Leopard would ship in Spring. Apple has never missed a ship date for OS X upgrades so they wouldn’t start now.”

Even after reading the news at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, some users refused to believe it. Some only accepted it after more reliable sites like reported it. But Apple had to post an official statement on to force even the strongest of deniers to move on to the next stage…

Stage 2: Anger

“How dare Apple do this? They told us Spring 2007! I’m a loyal customer that defends them in forums across the Internet and now all my taunting of Microsoft’s delays of Vista will have been hypocritical! I don’t even want an iPhone! Apple’s priorities should be on the flagship OS, not a bunch of iGadgetCrap!”

Anger is a powerful force (Star Wars taught us at least that) but eventually must subside. There are only so many digg comments and messageboard posts you can make at MacRumors and MacNN before you run out of energy, the fury dies and you move to the next stage…

Stage 3: Bargaining

This is the one stage not applicable at all because everyone knows (or should know) there is no bargaining with Apple. The record labels wanted Apple to raise prices on iTunes Music Store downloads: didn’t happen. Artists like Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers refused to release their music to the iTunes Music Store until Apple allowed Album-Only sales: they eventually gave in and sold their catalog as individual tracks (take a hint, Radiohead). Verizon wanted Apple to use its lame V-Cast service on the iPhone: Hello Cingular. Cisco said Apple couldn’t use the name iPhone because they already owned it: Hello iPhone, Goodbye Cisco. The Beatles said Apple Computer is infringing on their trademarked Apple Corps and shouldn’t be selling music: Apple Inc. is now licensing the Apple name to The Beatles. Michael Eisner threatened to create inferior sequels to Pixar movies if they didn’t renew their contract: nice try Disney, come back later with millions.

Of course that just shows it’s really not Apple they’re attempting to bargain with, it’s Steve Jobs. Sure, you could slip a fast one by previous CEOs, like the Microsoft deal in the ’80s to license Macintosh technology that ended up giving them a free pass to copy the user interface and thwart Apple’s lawsuit. And maybe lesser Apple beings like Phil Schiller or Tim Cook could be bargained with. But with Jobs still at the helm, what power do you have? “I was going to buy a new Mac in June and now I won’t buy it until October!” Uh-huh, and the prospect of that deferred revenue is really going to hurt them. They’ll still get your money in the same fiscal year. “I won’t buy the iPhone now!” Maybe that’d work if the more than one million people who’ve requested information from Cingular threatened it, but probably half of them don’t even have a Mac. “I won’t believe anything you say ever again, Apple!” Really? You think you’re powerful enough to resist the Reality Distortion Field now?

If CEOs of major coporations can’t get Steve to budge an inch, what chance do OS X users have of bargaining with Apple to get Leopard out in June? (Hint: It’s a one-digit answer that forms half the basis of computer programming.)

So you’ve recognized that the delay is real, run out of anger and know there’s no way to bargain with Apple. There’s only one place to go now and it’s not up…

Stage 4: Depression

You were so looking forward to release day at the nearest Apple Retail Store where the length of the purchase line would justify your Mac love; the thrill of posting semi-obvious finds to (‘If you option-click this button, it applies to all the items in the window!’); detailing the littlest user interface changes (‘Just noticed that the titlebar of System Preferences has a slight drop shadow!’); updating your e-mail signature for your mailing list cohorts to marvel at; and showing off the cool, 3-D graphics to your Windows XP-using coworkers.

But now it’s gone! All gone! No more Turkey Time Machine! No more Turkey Spaces! No more Turkey Secret Features! The shiny brass ring that once held the promise of Late 2006 and was sneakily shifted to Spring 2007 has now pushed out to October 2007. At two years and seven months, it’s the longest a Mac user has had to go without a full-point upgrade to OS X. It’s like you’d been promised Disneyland and now you’re not even getting a trip to Knottsberry Farm.

The dark depression of living with 10.4.9 for longer than expected has already subsided for some, though, and they’ve moved to the final stage…

Stage 5: Acceptance

Eventually the soothing words of analysts (‘Their stock won’t be impacted too much’), developers (‘this will give us more time to take advantage of Leopard technologies), less-demanding Mac users (‘What’s wrong with Tiger?’) and regular people (‘Who cares about what now?’) begin to take root and silver linings appear in the clouds.

“It’s really only four months late. I can buy a Mac now instead of waiting until June to save myself $129. I’d rather Apple wait and make the operating system perfect than rush it out bug-ridden to meet some meaningless Spring deadline. With another six months to work on it, surely this will be the most bug-free, feature-rich OS X update ever! Now they’ll have time to add even more secret features like the rumored “integrated” Boot Camp! Maybe I’ll see a rare 10.4.10 update!”

And if you put your $129 in a savings account it might earn enough interest in the next six months to cover any yet-to-be-revealed price increase. OK, so I’m still at Stage 4, but the siren song of Stage 5 is calling me (“Join us! It’s bliss!”)


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