Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced that the new Apple operating system is going to be called "Snow Leopard." As a Mac loyalist, I was struck by the name's vulnerabilities. There's no doubt that snow leopards are gorgeous creatures, but the cats carry a lot of baggage. If the Mac brand had asked veteran political strategist and spin-master Karl Rove to vet the creature a little more, I'm sure these are a few of the facts he would have pointed out:
1) Snow Leopards aren't leopards.
If the new operating system was supposed to be the evolution of Mac's Leopard, then they got this wrong. In truth, snow leopards are much more closely related to cheetahs. The weak snow leopard/leopard connection could cause problems if brought up in Microsoft attack ads.
2) They can't roar.
While snow leopards are deadly creatures that can jump 50 feet in one pounce (seriously, 50 feet!), their inability to speak up shows why they never would have landed the opening frame gig in MGM movies. Like their relatives the cheetah, their communication is limited to snarling sounds.
3) They're the symbol of the Girl Scout Association of Kyrgyzstan.
The Girl Scouts aren't the only group snow leopards are affiliated with. The creatures have a long history of posing for flags and patches. They've also been used on emblems for the Tatars, the Kazakhs, and they even appeared on an old seal given to Soviet mountaineers who had climbed the USSR's highest peaks. The association with cookies and little girls, however, is arguably the strongest (and possibly the coolest).
4) They hide behind their tails.
When snow leopards curl up and take shelter, they often use their bushy tails to protect their faces and most vulnerable areas from the cold.
That said, I'm sure Mr. Jobs' people know exactly what they're doing, and that Apple's new OS will do fine. In fact, the creatures are pretty darn cute, and just typing the words snow leopard over and over leaves me hankering for an upgrade.