Six reasons why OS X 10.8 'Mountain Lion' should be a free upgrade

Six reasons why OS X 10.8 'Mountain Lion' should be a free upgrade

Summary: Ecosystem is only part of the equation.


Apple should follow its iOS model when it comes to OS X pricing and release the 10.8 'Mountain Lion' update for free (or, if there are tax implications, $0.99), says Jay Yarrow of Business Insider.

See also: What problem does Windows 8 solve? | Two approaches to developing the next-gen desktop OS | Android tablets doomed without a single OS | Android paying the price for iOS similarities

Yarrow's argument, it's all about ecosystem:

Sure, $30 isn't all that much. If you're a Mac user and you really want the latest software, you'll spend the $30. But at $0, consumers will be happier, and more people will upgrade. More people using Mountain Lion means more people locked deeper into Apple's ecosystem.

He also makes the claim that 'Apple doesn't need the money'  and that Apple said that pricing would be competitive, and that 'nothing is more competitive than free.'

I agree with Yarrow, but I can come up with a whole load more compelling reasons why Apple could give away its OS X updates and still make money.

  1. Unification It's not just about ecosystem, it's about unifying that ecosystem. It makes sense (certainly for developers wanting to support the platform) to have an many users as possible on the new OS as quickly as possible. More users means more developer interest, which in turn means more apps.
  2. Mac OS only runs on a Mac So these people are already Apple customers, and it's not like they can take that free Mac OS X upgrade and install it on a competitor's machine.
  3. Speed of adoption How fast anything hits a specific milestone makes headlines, and nothing would get people hitting that upgrade button more than a free update. At $30 they might ummm and ahhh over the decision, for free (or $0.99) it's a no-brainer.
  4. Getting the jump on Microsoft Apple's Mountain Lion should be out before Microsoft gets Windows 8 out of the door. Getting a really solid user base (along with all the associated good publicity that would bring with it) would give the Cupertino giant an advantage (albeit a short-lived one) over the Redmond behemoth and get people who are thinking of buying a new PC buying Macs.
  5. Mountain Lion will sell more iOS devices The addition of iOS services such as Reminders and iMessage to OS X will no doubt be the push that some Mac owners need to go out and buy an iOS device.
  6. Mountain Lion will sell more Macs Not every Mac will be able to run Mountain Lion, in fact, there's a whole swathe of Macs that won't be supported (if your Mac is older than 2006/2007, or not a true 64-bit machine, you're likely out of luck). That offer of a free upgrade might just be enough to tempt people into thinking about Mountain Lion features, and when they find that it won't run, think about a new Mac.

[poll id="755"]

[poll id="756"]


Topics: Apple, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software

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  • It might not be free but it might be less than 30 dollars though.

    I can't seem to recall but I believe that there has only been two paid updates for iOS systems. (Yes, I know that we are speaking about ML and OS X in this blog)

    This might be a free update. ML almost seems like a service pack to me as well.
  • A giant an advantage because it'll get people to buy a Mac?

    Sounds like you're saying people won't buy a Mac based on their current OS?

    I doubt alot of people know the difference between OS X versions, they just "buy a Mac", and get the version that comes with it.
    William Farrel
    • Yeah, but you're not a Mac person

      So what do you know.
  • Not much faith of ML being free?

    Just check the voting result and most people think ML should be free while don't believe Apple will offer as a free upgrade, I guess there just aren't much faith that Apple might want to keep their existing customers happy with $98 billion bank account.
    • Wow, people want something for free. Yet people also recognize

      Companies operate for profit. Clearly not everyone is a fool.

      ML cleans up a few errors in Lion ( address book, what were they thinking). I suspect a small upgrade price in line with previous pricing, but with Apple's recent comments about their mountain of cash it wouldn't surprise me if they have something in mind.

      I'd see it as a customer reward if it was to happen, Adrian's comments re hardware are way off given OS X is bundled. Apple has had jump on MS, win8 playing catchup with what Apple has had in the market for years.
      Richard Flude
      • I think everything should be free!

        That doesn't mean I actually think I'll get it for free. The votes reflect just that. Should ML be free? Considering it's a platform for Apple to make more money, potentially a lot more than $30, sure. Then again a lot of people will buy it therefore it won't be free. I personally don't have a problem with them charging for it but I could see the logic of giving it away.

        What I found most amusing is that the exact same argument could be made for Windows 8. In fact every one of those reasons you could swap OS X for Windows 8 and have a very valid point. It doesn't mean I expect MS to give it away. But I'd like them to.
    • Why does Apple bank account matter?

      Yes I want ML to be free but why does the size of apple's cash pile matter? Why does everyone bash apple for being successful? Jealous?
  • 6 reasons the prime rib at my local grocery should be free

    1. I don't have any money
    2. I'm entitled to eat
    3. Most farmers are supported by a federal subsidy of one sort or another
    4. The commercial says "Beef it is what is for dinner", I don't have any, so I deserve some
    5. Buffett's secretary eats beef.
    6. I like food.
    • em free beef

      I think the point being made is that offering the OS x update fer free is in Apple's best interest not ours. That would be a happy accident.
  • Number 4 doesn't really factor in

    Windows people are Windows people. Mac people are Mac people. Those that switch are going to switch, regardless of whatever version Mac is running.
  • I prefer some software to not be free

    When you pay for something, it's an incentive for the company to provide support. I do believe in software being affordable ($100+ is too much).
    • Why is it too much?

      If we're talking operating systems, perhaps. If we're talking AutoDesk, Office, PhotoShop then no, it's certainly not too much. Those are tools that people often make back their investment in software many times over.

      I think MS should seriously consider dropping prices with Windows 8. Ideally we'd see about $99 for retail versions of Home, $49 on the upgrade. And then perhaps $179 for retail and $99 for upgrade on Pro. And only have the two versions. I know it won't happen but I think MS could stand to make much more money off the market if more people upgraded.
      • Distinction between consumer and specialized software

        Some specialized software should and could be expensive, but consumer software should be more affordable. Games for $70? C'mon. Strangely enough, it's been costing me a lot less in software when I entered the Mac environment three years ago.
    • It's already $30

      So what are you complaining about?
  • Can't wait for "Six reasons why Windows 8 should be a free upgrade"

    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Don't know about Windows 8.

      But Windows 7 should have been free to anyone that paid for Vista.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
      • Vista

        Vista SP2 is running just fine for me. I've no need to upgrade to 7.

        Reply: FYI, I'm running OEM Vista Business on a desktop PC with a 1.6 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB RAM (it shipped with 1 GB), integrated video (256 MB) and Ethernet networking. Runs SQL Server 2008, SharpDevelop IDE, TOAD for SQL Server and a Linux VM along with the usual apps. A little bit of a lag with some apps in the VM (e.g., SQL Developer, Netbeans), but quite tolerable. Cheers.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • You experience, and what I saw...

        Were two completely different things. I personally saw a dell laptop with Vista randomly lose the WiFi connection. it had to manually be reconnected, that is unacceptable. To make matters worse Microsoft would not support Vista, deflecting a software related issue off as Dell's problem. Microsoft only supports retail copies of their products. The OEMs have to support the bulk of Windows users "issues", As Microsoft refuses to.
        Jumpin Jack Flash
      • @Jumping Jack Flash

        That's because Microsoft doesn't build the machines, and therefore has no working knowledge as to what goes on inside them.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • But Windows 7 should have been free to anyone that paid for Vista

        I will definitely second that.