Just a Thought - Leopard Launch in Orlando

October 27th, 2007

On Friday, October 26, 2007, at 6PM, Apple's latest version of its operating system, Mac OS X version 10.5, code name: Leopard, went on sale. People lined up outside of Apple Stores all around the country to be the first to get a copy.

Normally I head straight for My Little Apple Store in Millenia Mall here in Orlando to check out important launches, but this time I decided to see how things were shaping up at my local Best Buy Store.

As you may know, Best Buy and Apple are best buddies these days, and you are likely to find a little Apple Store manned by a real Apple employee nestled somewhere near the upscale audio gear of most Best Buy stores.

I wanted to see if people knew about Apple's shoppes (pronounced: shop-peas) and whether they were flocking to buy OS X Leopard at Best Buy, or if they were ignoring the little boutiques in favor of a grander experience in a full fledged Apple Store.

Well, there was absolutely no one at my local Best Buy when I arrived. No throngs of anxious Apple fans crowding around the handful of Macs and MacBooks on display. No curious onlookers wondering just what - the heck- is going on over by the Macs. No festive, party-like atmosphere. Just me, the Apple guy, some Best Buy sales people, and Leopard.

Over at the Millenia Mall, it was a different story. When I arrived an hour after the Leopard launch (rush hour traffic is a nightmare on Fridays) the Apple Store was packed. The sales folks must have put out more iMacs to display Leopard because you literally couldn't spit without hitting someone on a Mac and playing with OS X.

Impromptu demos seemed to happen any time a sales person got within arm's reach of a Mac, and when he or she started showing off some of Leopard's features people would crowd in to listen.

There's a party going on right here... Apple Store in Millenia Mall, Orlando, FL

There was so much of a party going on that the only thing missing was the beer and pretzels.

Meanwhile, over at Best Buy... (crickets chirping).

OS X version 10.5 was the life of the party too. There is so much to like about the new OS. One feature I'm a huge fan of is Spaces, Apple's implementation of virtual desktops; a technology that lets you have virtual screen space much larger than your physical screen. You can have applications running in any of the virtual desktops and easily get to them, switch between them, or view them all. You can find other virtual desktop applications for the Mac and other platforms, but leave it to Apple to make the concept sing.

There's a whole lot more, but I can do without some of the glitz that comes standard with OS X 10.5, however. For instance, Cover Flow in the Finder does nothing for me except get in my way. It looks pretty though, but I don't have to use it, thankfully.

In fact, after everything is said and done, the feature I like best about OS X version 10.5 is that I don't have to use most of the new features, I can just get on with doing what I do, and that is what makes OS X worth having.

It certainly looks like Apple has another winner on its hands. It's been a banner year for the folks at 1 Infinite Loop, and I, for one, am happy for them.

As to the somewhat lonely Apple guy at my local Best Buy, I think his feeling of isolation will be short lived. The word is getting out about Apple in Best Buy and the Apple guy told me that he holds weekly classes to showcase the many cool things Apple products can do. If other Apple folks at Best Buy are doing the same pretty soon people will shop locally instead of driving whatever distance to an Apple Store.

One thing that could help make the Apple Shoppes in Best Buy more appealing is to find a way for them to access and deliver more Apple products.

Apples Shoppes have limited shelf space, but that shouldn't mean that folks can't buy what they want locally. Apple should let people buy any item that is stocked in any Apple Store and guarantee to have it in the Shoppe where purchased the next day free of any shipping charge. It won't be as good as the instant gratification of buying� items in a big Apple Store, but there won't be the wait one gets when ordering online either.

Anyway, Leopard is slick, Apple Shoppes are up and coming, and Apple is hitting on all eights. There is a certain peace in the world tonight.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He's been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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