Details of new research on Mac OS X Leopard show that Mac users are buying family pack licenses, even though they aren't forced to. On the other hand, Microsoft goes to great lengths to validate every Windows installation. So does this mean that Apple customers are more honest than Windows users?
A Reuters story on Monday said that Leopard was Apple's best-ever OS release.
When comparing the first full month of sales of Apple Mac OS 10.5 "Leopard" (November 2007) to the first full month of sales for Mac OS 10.4 "Tiger" (May 2005), dollar volume for Leopard was up 32.8 percent and unit volume up 20.5 percent, NPD Group Inc said in a statement.
Details emerged in a Computerworld report with an interview with NPD analyst Chris Swenson. In the article, the analyst mentioned that the Apple 5-license pack, called the Family Pack, was helping the unit and dollar figures.
Some of the increase can be attributed to the bigger slice of total sales that Apple's Family Pack took. Nearly a third (32.8%) of all Leopard units tracked by NPD were the five-license Family Pack, a major bump from the 20.4% of Tiger's sales. Not surprisingly, that drove up the average sales price of Leopard to $144.30 in its first month, compared with Tiger's first-month average of $128.50. (The two upgrades were priced identically: $129 for a single license, and $199 for the Family Pack.)
"That's one that I was bearish on," Swenson admitted. "I wondered [before Leopard's launch], 'How many more can they sell?' Well, Apple was obviously able to continue to grow that."
What Swenson wondered before was whether Mac users could be trusted to pay extra for the pack, since unlike Microsoft with Windows SKUs, Apple doesn't run any system check or Internet activation on its customers for piracy of its operating system. It never has. If users want to, they can install a single SKU version of Mac OS X Leopard on multiple machines.
Instead, Apple makes the family pack a great deal and encourages honesty.
Joe Wilcox at Microsoft Watch is critical of Microsoft's policies.
Apple's approach is quite different from Microsoft's. Windows upgrade pricing encourages many consumers to spend less for the operating system. Apple's approach is to get honest users to pay more. End users get more value—five licenses for the price of two—and Apple gets more money per consumer. Apple's benefit is bigger with Leopard than previous Mac OS X versions.
In addition, Microsoft's vision of a family pack was also warped. It let buyers of the Vista Ultimate SKU (at a list price of $399 or $259 for the upgrade from Windows XP) purchase 2 copies of Vista Home Premium at a solid discount of $50. Still, customers had a steep entry price to receive the savings — compare that with the Apple SKU standard price of $129 and $199 for the 5-pack.
After offering this deal for 5 months or so, Microsoft in July pulled the plug on its Vista discount program.
So, here's the quandary: Is Microsoft's assessment of its customer base correct? Are they all a bunch of pirates?
Or could it be that PC owners feel that the price of Windows isn't fair. If you feel that you're getting ripped off, then it's easier to rationalize bad behavior, such as not paying for a software license. I admit that I've never met a person who has expressed qualms about getting around a Windows license if they could.
What do you think?