Steve Jobs and Snow Leopard

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2009-12-23 Print this article Print


Speculation about Steve Jobs and his health continued throughout the spring and early summer, but nobody seemed to have any definitive answers. That was before June 20, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Jobs had undergone a liver transplant in Tennessee at some point during the spring. The actual hospital managed to remain a secret for another few days, until the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute released a statement on June 23 acknowledging that Jobs had his liver transplant there.

According to the hospital, Jobs was the patient with "the highest MELD score (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) of his blood type and, therefore, the sickest patient on the waiting list at the time a donor organ became available." The MELD score tries to predict a patient's chances of surviving chronic liver disease, and is the metric used by both the United Network for Organ Sharing and Eurotransplant to determine which patients should receive livers.

That statement seemed tailored to blunt questions, raised by The New York Times and other media outlets, over how Jobs had managed to receive his liver so rapidly despite a general lack of available organs nationwide.

On Sept. 9, a gaunt-looking Jobs made his first public appearance since October 2008, taking the stage during an Apple event in San Francisco to announce new features for the iPod and the iTunes App Store.

"I now have the liver of a kid in his 20s, who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate [his] organs," Jobs told the audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts near the Moscone Center. "I wouldn't be here if not for that generosity. I hope all of us can be that generous, and also become organ donors."

Late summer also saw Apple preparing to launch "Snow Leopard," its newest operating system upgrade. Also known as OS X 10.6, Apple retailed the operating system for $29, with a five-license family pack available for $49. Those who purchased new Macs from June 8 through Dec. 26 also had the ability to upgrade to Snow Leopard for $9.95.

Snow Leopard included several under-the-hood improvements over the previous version of the operating system, most notably in how it made use of 64-bit CPUs with 64-bit support for Mail, Finder, iChat and Safari. In a bid to further appeal to enterprise customers, Snow Leopard included support for Microsoft Exchange Server.

During this period, Apple also continued to busily patch Mac OS X 10.5.7 with upgrades to security, patches for applications such as iCal and Mail, and improved functionality with Gmail and Yahoo.

Although Snow Leopard was more of an upgrade than a brand-new operating system, pundits nonetheless saw fit to make its release into an "Apple versus Microsoft" story, given the proximity of Snow Leopard's late August release to the Oct. 22 launch of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. Analysts saw Snow Leopard's release date and low price as an attempt to steal some of Microsoft's thunder, although some suggested that Apple would need to take additional steps if it wanted to increase enterprise adoption of Macs.

Two weeks after Snow Leopard's Aug. 28 release, The NPD Group's tracking service estimated that Snow Leopard was outselling the original Leopard by a 2-to-1 margin, and outselling Tiger by 4-to-1. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster forecast that Snow Leopard would sell around 5 million copies of the operating system through the end of September.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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