Apple’s Bold Move

Apple’s Bold Move

photo credit: goobimama via photopin cc

photo credit: goobimama via photopin cc

On October 22, 2013, Apple had a new product introduction where they introduced the iPad Air as well as some other products. They also used the stage to announce the availability of their new operating system, Mavericks, which is now available.

The most striking thing about the announcement was the fact that the operating system upgrade was going to be free for existing Mac users dating back to 2007 machines, regardless of the OS they’re currently running. In addition, Apple’s suite of productivity/creativity tools (iLife and iWork) will also be free with the purchase of a new device.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise given that Apple has lowered the upgrade price on OSX in recent years. With the first incarnation of OSX in 2001, Cheetah came with a price of $129. Tiger was $129 in 2005.  Snow Leopard was priced at $29 in August of 2009. Mountain Lion, released in 2012 was just $19.

Offering the OS upgrade for free is a bold move by Apple as they’re essentially firing a shot across the bow of Microsoft saying that the status quo for operating system updates isn’t going to work. What’s even more remarkable is Apple is putting more of an emphasis on its hardware to make a profit than its software. But Apple is still going to make a mint through sales of apps on their App Store.

From a marketing perspective, this is a shrewd move in that Apple is encouraging people to come play in their sandbox. If you use their hardware, you’re going to have the latest and greatest operating systems for free across platforms, which is something Apple’s competitors can’t say. Look at Android and how fragmented their operating system is. Customers want a system that just works, and if it works with their mobile devices too, even better. Apple really wants to create the all encompassing experience for its users, and what better way to do so than by giving them something useful for free. They’re providing additional value to complement their impeccable hardware designs.

The one downside is that if circumstances change and Apple decides to charge an upgrade fee for future versions of the OS, that may wind up alienating customers. They haven’t charged for iOS, so I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t charge for the desktop OS, especially given that there are so many more mobile users than there are Apple desktop/laptop users.

All told, I think this is an interesting announcement from Apple and am curious to see if this disrupts the market at all. On a personal note, I do miss Steve and his “One More Thing.”

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