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Questioning the Snow Leopard Moment

If you’ve followed Apple for any length of time, you’ve no doubt encountered someone reminiscing about Mac OS X Snow Leopard or wondering whether the time was right for some products’ ’Snow Leopard’ moment. Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009, has become synonymous with a software release focused on stability and bug fixes instead of new features.

Michael Steeber at 9to5Mac takes an in-depth look at the legend behind Snow Leopard and questions whether it’s deserved. As Steeber notes, Snow Leopard was marketed as having no new features, but it was far from bug-free. Nonetheless, the release’s marketing message, a general perception that the quality of Apple’s software declined in subsequent years, and other factors, have led to Snow Leopard’s mythological status. As Steeber puts it:

…a kernel of truth persists underneath the mythology. Improvements to iOS and macOS, no matter how small, contribute to a better experience for everyone. Fixing bugs might not be as marketable as shiny new Animoji or a fresh design, but maintenance can only be deferred so long. If Apple can knock stability out of the park in 2018, maybe the legend of Snow Leopard can finally be put to rest.

I suspect Snow Leopard’s reputation, which has become conventional wisdom at this point, will persist regardless of what happens this year. Still, it’s instructive to see how we got to this point and worth noting for the next time a similar meme circulates.