Apple’s event on October 22nd was mostly ‘as expected’, but one surprise that didn’t seem to be on any rumour lists was that the update to the latest version of the Mac computers operating system (OSX) called Mavericks would be free. Given their admired and oft-copied business model the questions about ‘why’ start to abound.
Firstly it should be noted that there is a significant difference between a major Windows version (eg. Windows 7 and Windows 8) and an update to OSX which has largely been the case of tweaking an existing design. Although in fairness Mavericks does seem to deal with more of the underlying achitecture by improving code efficiency.
While it would be foolish to second-guess a business plan, there do seem to be a few solid reasons for doing this:
- The upgrades were comparatively cheap anyway at around £29.99 per version
- Macs are no longer ‘immune’ to viruses, partly an issue with their growing popularity and hence allowing all current users to update for free
- Mavericks provides many of the underlying improvements that allow for Apple’s expanding App, Messaging and Cloud eco-system to gain further traction
- It fits nicely with giving away iWork (office software) which Microsoft and others have been dismissive of, it helps with competing on the side of Google Docs, etc
- It throws a metaphorical, though perhaps not actual spanner in the direction of Microsoft whose bread-and-butter is still software despite a bigger move to devices and services
- Probably most importantly it helps sell Macs, which are high-profit-margin devices – knowing the core software gets free updates (like iOS on iPhones/iPads/iPods) is both simple to understand and attractive – of course then you make money on the value-added software
Of course there are some more hilarious theories behind what’s going on.