Talking tech since 2003

WWDC starts on June 6th and Apple is expected to either release or announce a release date for the next version of Mac OS X.  The next version of course being OS X Lion.  But one question that a lot of people are asking is how much will OS X Lion cost to upgrade to from Snow Leopard?  If you remember, the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard was a mere $29.  Will Apple be able to match that $29 price point again with Lion?

There hasn’t been any indication either way, nor have I seen much talk about it.  Nonetheless, I say they will or maybe they will do even better than $29 – think free (more on that later).  When it comes down to it, Apple makes a majority of its revenue from the company’s hardware products.  Those being Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc.  So I don’t see why they would need to charge for it, at least, aside from covering the distribution costs (if they offer Lion install disks).

I’ve said it before and I’m going to stick with this statement: Apple is a hardware company with its own operating system.  Unlike Microsoft, they do not need to sell software to make money.  If anything, the software they provide is mostly complimentary.  You buy a Mac, you get the latest iLife suite installed with the latest OS X.  Of course, Apple also has additional software they offer for a price.  But it’s a nominal price compared to others in the market.

iWork is only $79, compared to Office which can run you well over $200.  Granted, Office for Mac is definitely a bit more advanced and perhaps even better, iWork isn’t a bad choice for people to use in a home or school environment.  Even one of Apple’s most advanced pieces of software has come down in price recently.  Final Cut Pro, which is perhaps one of the best (if not considered the best) video editing software on the market will be $299 when the next version is released (Final Cut Pro X).  Currently, you can only purchase Final Cut Pro as part of Final Cut Studio for $999.

Additionally, as we continually move more towards mobile computing we can’t forget that the iPhone and iPad both run operating systems too.  In fact, Apple’s iOS is essentially free.  Once you buy an iPhone or iPad it comes bundled with iOS and it also comes with free upgrades.  There is no indication that Apple plans to charge customers for future updates either.

So what am I getting at?  Well, isn’t it possible that maybe Apple would consider releasing OS X Lion for free?  In addition to Lion, what if Apple made all future versions of OS X free?  I mean, if Apple announced that OS X would now be free – I wouldn’t be completely surprised, would you?  It seems like this scenario could be even more likely if Apple could eliminate physical distribution costs (e.g. disks in their retail stores).  Now with the Mac App Store, it’s definitely possible to facilitate.

The only problem with distributing solely from the Mac App Store is discriminating against customers with slower Internet connections.  However, I wouldn’t be opposed to offering it for free via the Mac App Store and charging a nominal fee if you need a disk.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments!

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