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

Ecosystem is only part of the equation.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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.

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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.

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