Mac OS X Retail Purchases are NOT Upgrades

Wednesday, 2004-10-13; 15:32:00

A rebuttal to the common argument against an OS X upgrade price

(Originally posted on AppleXnet)

Recently, Eoban published an article about the need for an upgrade price for Mac OS X. (I wrote an article on the same topic about a year ago.) And in the various comments on articles like these, there's always one ridculous argument that's been proposed: all Mac OS X retail box purchases are "upgrades".

The argument goes like this: the Mac OS (including Mac OS X) only runs on Macs. When you buy a Mac, you received a copy of the Mac OS with your Mac purchase (the price of the Mac OS being included with the price of the Mac). So if you purchase a retail box copy of the latest version of the Mac OS, you are actually purchasing a Mac OS "upgrade", because you necessarily have a Mac and therefore must have already "purchased" a previous version of the Mac OS.

Anyone who makes this argument is dismissing the need for a Mac OS X upgrade price on a technicality. The fact is that before Mac OS X, you could use one of the coupons from a previously purchased version of the Mac OS to get a discount on the retail box price of the latest version of the Mac OS. That means if you previously bought a boxed copy or purchased a Mac, you were able to get a discount on the next boxed copy. Typically, this amounted to a $30 discount, when the retail box price of the Mac OS was $99.

However, the same argument about these retail boxes being "upgrades" was still applicable back in the days of the classic Mac OS. All purchasers of retail boxes of Mac OS had already "purchased" a previous version, and yet still Apple had a discounted pricing policy for these customers. So dismissing the need of a similar "upgrade price" for Mac OS X just because all retail boxes are "upgrades" is ludicrous.

The same mechanism for providing discount upgrades is still in place for Mac OS X. Apple still provides (as far as I know) coupons with both purchased Macs and purchased boxed copies of Mac OS X. It's just that Apple doesn't provide a discounted price. Even a discount of $30 would be a nice gesture to previous purchasers (even though Mac OS X costs $129 compared to $99 for the classic Mac OS).

It remains true that keeping up with the latest version of the Mac OS gets a little expensive when compared to Windows, despite the fact that a single purchase of Mac OS X costs less than a single purchase of Windows. Apple needs to step up to the plate, reward its recurring customers, and reimplement the discounted upgrade program for Mac OS X.

-- Simone

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