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Apple Doin' the Logo-Motion

Leander Kahney Email 09.26.03

For the first time in several years, Apple looks poised to refresh its famous logo.

One of the world's most recognizable corporate symbols -- the Apple logo -- is about to get a silvery chrome finish.

The logo's shape remains unchanged -- an apple with a bite taken out of the right side.

The effect is a lot like the chrome female robots of Hajime Sorayama. At least, that's the best guess of Apple watchers, who spotted the new logo in the latest test version of Apple's OS X operating system.

It is not clear whether Apple will adopt the new silver logo for product design, as well as marketing and packaging, or simply restrict it to the new software.

Whatever Apple decides to do, the new logo got a hearty endorsement from Rob Janoff, the graphic designer who created Apple's original, rainbow-striped logo.

"It freshens it up," Janoff said of the new color scheme. "It's great to take an image and keep revising it and making it better. I'm totally into it."

Janoff acknowledged an outcry might be heard from Apple purists. He noted there were complaints in 1998 when Apple's CEO Steve Jobs ordered Janoff's rainbow-striped logo to be replaced with a monochrome version on the PowerBook G3, the first Mac to get the new logo.

"I'd rather they updated it than dumped it," he said.

Janoff said when he first presented the Apple logo to Steve Jobs in 1976, he showed a range of alternative monochrome designs. One of them was metallic silver and bore a striking resemblance to the new chrome logo.

"It's like I already designed it -- in 1976," said Janoff, laughing. He now runs his own agency, Newtrix, out of his home in the Chicago suburbs.

The new Apple logo appears throughout the latest build of the operating system, code-named Panther, which is expected to be released to the public in the next few weeks. The latest test version of the software was made available to software developers and beta testers over the weekend.

The logo first appears on the boot-up splash screen, then the login dialog box. It is also present in the About this Mac dialog box, replacing the big blue X used currently.

"It's notable that they've dropped the big X for the operating system and have reverted back to pushing the fruit logo," said Owen Linzmayer, a longtime Apple watcher and author of Apple Confidential. "With or without stripes, it's a much stronger iconic image than the capital letter X, which carries with it subtle negative connotations."

For the last few years, the Apple logo has appeared in various fruity colors -- a scheme that matched Apple's line of brightly colored iMacs. But now that Apple has discontinued the fruity machines, instead opting for white and raw-aluminum color schemes -- the polished chrome logo is more fitting.

Panther is getting a brushed aluminum makeover, as well as a new logo. Instead of the current aqua color scheme, which makes use of bright colors and subtle pinstripes in much of the interface, of Panther has a lot of the metallic sheen previously restricted to individual applications, like iTunes or QuickTime.

"(The new logo) is completely consistent with their design scheme," said Kasper Jade, editor in chief of AppleInsider, which was one of the first to spot the new silver logo.

"Apple gets onto these kicks, and right now it's aluminum," Jade added. "It's a lot to do with Steve Jobs. He loves that aluminum."

Not everyone is happy with the move toward brushed metal, which Apple is previewing on its Panther webpage.

A petition to Apple to cut the new look had attracted more than 200 signatories by Friday morning.

It reads, "Please do not add the ugly look of brushed metal to the Finder, OR, if you must do so, please give us an easy way to turn off this monstrosity."

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