December 2, 2022
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New Mac OS puts Ventura in the spotlight

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This photo of Ventura’s waterfront and downtown is one of the images Visit Ventura hopes will appear in Apple’s macOS Ventura. (courtesy photo)

Apple’s announcement on June 6 that it would name its next Mac operating system “Ventura” was big news in the tech press, but no surprise to the people at the Visit Ventura, the city’s visitor and convention bureau. They’d been waiting for this moment for eight years, ever since Mike Laan, Visit Ventura’s director of marketing and a self-described “Apple nerd,” read that the company had applied for trademarks on a list of California place names including Mojave, Sonoma and Ventura.

Apple starting naming its Mac OS after California locations in 2013, with OS X Mavericks, named for a famous surf spot south of San Francisco. OS X Yosemite followed, as did systems named El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur and Monterey — and, when it launches later this year, Ventura.

Marlyss Auster, Visit Ventura’s president and CEO, was at a tourism industry convention in Florida when news of the impending macOS Ventura dropped. Her phone started buzzing with texts from Laan about the news, and soon her booth was surrounded by people who had heard about it.

“People were talking about it left and right,” Auster said. “Almost everybody knows Catalina and Monterey in California, but given that Ventura is a little more under the radar, it’s even bigger excitement and joy for us.”

The June 6 announcement put the word “Ventura” on the lips of Apple aficionados and tech news junkies, while the actual launch later this year will put the city’s name in front of millions of Mac users when they open their new computers or update their operating systems.

Auster’s hope is that the publicity might help convince someone driving through Ventura on Highway 101 to stop for a visit.

“For years people have said, ‘Oh, I’ve driven through Ventura but I haven’t really stopped,’ so for years our team has been working on getting them to stop,” she said. “Apple deciding to name their Mac OS after the city can only help us.”

The name helps, but an even bigger coup would be some prominent photos of Ventura in the operating system. Recent Mac OS versions have featured abstract designs as the default desktop background, with high-resolution photos of the namesake locations like Big Sur and Yosemite pre-loaded and available a few clicks away under “System Preferences.”

When programmers demonstrated a beta version of macOS Ventura at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6, the desktop background was a closeup, stylized image of an orange California poppy flower. Auster and her team don’t have anything against poppies, but they’ll have their fingers crossed for a default photo of the Ventura Pier, or a view from the hillside of downtown and the beach, the Channel Islands looming in the distance.

When Laan first read about the “Ventura” trademark, he started collecting iconic Ventura photos and tweeting them at Apple, “poking and prodding them a little,” Auster said.

“Of course, Apple has access to a ton of images, but we want to make sure it’s very accessible for them,” she said.

The Visit Ventura staff isn’t aware of a measurable Mac OS effect on the tourism economies of the other locations Apple has picked over the past nine years. It’s possible that the exposure could be a bigger boon to Ventura, which has a population of about 108,000 and isn’t a globally known destination like Big Sur or Yosemite. Publicity is publicity, and a Mac OS update is a better way to get your city’s name in front of millions of people than, say, a wildfire.

Rachel Dinbokowitz, the public relations manager at Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Big Sur and Monterey systems brought benefits to the area that are “probably more intangible.”

“It adds some clout for any destination that is featured,” she said. “Apple as a company is pretty innovative and they inspire a lot of people. It’s great to see them continuing to pick California destinations that they find inspiring. They’ve picked some very beautiful places.”