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Leopard at MacLive Expo: Wait for it, wait for it...

The wait is over -- Leopard has emerged from the jungle, or the veldt, or wherever it is leopards live. The new version of Apple's OS X hits the shops today

The wait is over -- Leopard has emerged from the jungle, or the veldt, or wherever it is leopards live. The new version of Apple's OS X hits the shops today. Good news for anyone attending the MacLive Expo event at London's Olympia.

Well, yes and no. The organisers of MacLive Expo must have had a hectic day in the office when it was announced that Leopard's launch date coincided with their big event. I went along this morning, hoping to get a glimpse of Leopard, and maybe even stroke its fur. But Apple has chosen not to exhibit at the event, and hasn't even provided a demo version of Leopard.

How awesome that could have been: at the centre of the conference floor, a brand-spanking-new glossy iMac showing off spaces, stacks and time machine. Sure, anyone hitting the show floor on Saturday will have Leopard coming out of their ears, but not those who made the journey in the first two days.

I feel Apple has missed a trick. MacLive may not be the biggest event in the world, but it's still a few thousand of the Apple corps coming together. A demo stand would have been a great way of connecting with the faithful.

I'm not suggesting that multinational, multi-billion-dollar corporation Apple would dilute the excitement of the launch day by previewing Leopard, or eat into Apple Store sales by selling it at MacLive. But the whole point of Apple worship is that Apple has never felt like a multinational, multi-billion dollar corporation. Yet with the iPhone contracts, that's exactly what it seems to be turning into, and I don't like it.

Has Leopard has arrived just as Apple is changing its spots?