I have to disagree with my friend, The Mac Observer’s John Martellaro, who contends that there would be no problem in Apple naming OX 10.9 “Cougar,” an as yet unused OS X version nomenclature wild cat. John argues that cougars are relatively big, strong cats, and that the name connotes power and ferocity—more so than the other favored OS X 10.9 naming contender “Lynx.”
Apple trademarked both names back in 2003 under the common category of “computers; computer software; computer operating system software,” so there’s no impediment to naming OS X 10.9 “Cougar.”
However, there is the delicate matter of the name’s association in the colloquial vernacular referencing the behavior of some women of a certain age. John doesn’t think it’s really an issue for Apple. I’m not so sure about that. While it would be great if Apple actually could rehabilitate and restore the prestige of the cougar name (which I rather like) from prurient connotations and reclaim the higher ground, as John puts it, I think the association might well prove more tenacious than he contends. Ford Motor Company used Cougar for its Mercury variant of the original game-changing Ford Mustang ponycar back in 1964, and the original 1964-’69 Mercury Cougar remains my favorite example of the genré.
Cougar is also a synonym for puma, already used for OS X 10.1, but then so are panther (OS X 10.3) and mountain lion (OS X 10.8) in its North American context. The largest wild cat species on this continent is variously known as cougar, puma, mountain lion, panther, painter, and catamount plus reportedly several dozen other less-widely used names that have been recorded across North and South America. By using Cougar, Apple would be returning to the same well species-wise for a fourth time. If they wanted a particularly exotic variant, they might consider Eastern Cougar, referencing cats some contend still range in small numbers east of the Mississippi River in the U.S., and Canada—an assertion that remains to be scientifically verified.
Lynx, on the other hand, has no problematical issues I can think of as an OS X name other than that some folks might think the lynx too small a cat to name an OS X version for. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I think Lynx would be an excellent and appropriate name choice. Known to the Ojibwa as “the vigilant protector of the people,” lynx may be small, but they’re formidable predators. And while their prey of choice is the snowshoe hare, reportedly lynx will bring down animals as large as caribou when hare are scarce. The reclusive Lynx is also one handsome cat in my estimation, perhaps the best-looking wild cat species of all.
To review, here are the cat names Apple has applied to OS X versions and their introduction dates:
- 10.0 Cheetah – March 24, 2001
- 10.1 Puma – September 25, 2001
- 10.2 Jaguar – August 24, 2002
- 10.3 Panther – October 24, 2003
- 10.4 Tiger – April 29, 2005
- 10.5 Leopard – October 26, 2007
- 10.6 Snow Leopard – August 28, 2009
- 10.7 Lion – July 20, 2011
- 10.8 Mountain Lion – July 25, 2012
You can read John Martellaro’s argument in favor of naming OS X 10.9 “Cougar” at The Mac Observer.