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  • The Almost Final Leopard Upgrade Pitch!

    August 28th, 2007

    It seems that every time Apple is close to a new release of Mac OS X, I’m here begging and pleading for a decent upgrade path for recent purchasers of new Macs or the previous Mac OS upgrade box. Of course, Apple doesn’t pay attention and they do what they planned to do anyway.

    However, I think my argument becomes ever stronger with each upgrade, for various logical reasons, at least that’s what I believe.

    When Mac OS 10.0 became 10.1, of course, the upgrade was essentially free, unless you ordered for shipment direct to your home, in which case a $19.95 “shipping and handling” fee was required. Lest we forget, that fee was the subject of lots of heated arguments about Apple’s alleged profiteering ways.

    Regardless, 10.1 was sort of usable, but still slow as the devil, even on the fastest Mac of that era. Come 10.2 and 10.3, and things got a whole lot better. Now, though, you had to pay the full $129 for the upgrade, unless you bought a new Mac after the shipping date was announced — usually at the latest possible moment — in which case you’d be eligible for a special upgrade plan for a brief period of time. How long? A few months or maybe longer, depending on when the next version of Mac OS X was due.

    In each case, however, the upgrades were well worth the money because an almost usable operating system became better and — unlike a certain company headquartered in Redmond, WA — faster and more stable. Come 10.4, Mac OS X finally realized its industrial-strength potential, and it became a mainstay for millions of Mac users, both new and converted.

    Now it’s fair to say that, despite the promise of over 300 nifty new features in Leopard, it’s not going to be an easy sell. For one thing, just what Macs will Apple leave behind? Officially, the final system requirements have not been announced, and I won’t take any of the comments in rumor sites as gospel. Besides, things are apt to be in flux until Apple begins to take orders.

    But it’s fair to say that Leopard’s new graphic eye-candy, such as Core Animation, is apt to require a decently-fast G4 with a powerful graphics card, which probably means that most anything Apple produced in the last four years or so should be compatible.

    In the scheme of things, that doesn’t seem too bad, considering that the full Aero 3D interface for Windows Vista barely runs on many of today’s PCs, and far fewer models that are more than a year old.

    Apple, however, has said nothing about whether Leopard will be faster, although I would assume they’ll try to make it more stable, particularly the Finder. While the Finder’s new look and features may seem sexier to tout in ads, if it is subject to fewer multithreading slowdowns, that would be just as important, if not more so.

    However, does all that, plus Time Machine, Spaces and the other new features, total up to sufficient justification to buy yet another operating system upgrade from Apple at full price? My decision is clear. I will order a family pack the day it goes on sale, and install it on all my Macs as soon as it arrives, although separated by a few hours, to make sure that the setup process works reliably.

    But I’m an early adopter, despite the well-known risks. If you depend on your Mac to help you earn a living, you can’t be so cavalier about installing a brand new operating system version, even if Apple makes the installation process nearly foolproof.

    What, for example, about the applications you need? Will they be compatible, or crash with abandon or function in a crippled fashion. You probably won’t know until the dust settles, and that may take at least a few days before the Mac troubleshooting sites report the news you need to know.

    In the meantime, if I were in the driver’s seat at Apple, I would want to do whatever I could to encourage you to buy that upgrade. If this meant having, say, a longer grace period for recent purchasers of new Macs and Tiger upgrade kits, so be it.

    Personally, whether Leopard comes out at the beginning of October, the end of the month, or somewhere in between, I think Apple should begin to accept orders for upgrades right after Labor Day. Yes, I know they apparently plan to unveil new iPods that week, but that’s beside the point.

    What’s more, on that day, anyone who buys a new Mac or Tiger box ought to be eligible a free Leopard upgrade for, say, $9.95 a copy. No questions asked, and no installation restrictions, which means they send the same DVD that the full retail purchasers receive.

    Of course, as usual, Apple never listens.



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    9 Responses to “The Almost Final Leopard Upgrade Pitch!”

    1. Dave Barnes says:

      Gene,

      Why should Apple listen to you when you write: “My decision is clear. I will order a family pack”?

      I will also order a family pack about a month after announcement. So will millions of other people. So, why should Apple give up that revenue?

      By the way, I think that $200 for a family pack is a bargain.

      ,dave

    2. Gene,

      Why should Apple listen to you when you write: “My decision is clear. I will order a family pack”?

      I will also order a family pack about a month after announcement. So will millions of other people. So, why should Apple give up that revenue?

      By the way, I think that $200 for a family pack is a bargain.

      ,dave

      Well, from the standpoint of Apple or the Apple stockholder, this makes sense. From the standpoint of the customer, Apple ought to cut them a little slack 🙂

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. Dana Sutton says:

      “What’s more, on that day, anyone who buys a new Mac or Tiger box ought to be eligible a free Leopard upgrade for, say, $9.95 a copy. No questions asked, and no installation restrictions, which means they send the same DVD that the full retail purchasers receive.

      Of course, as usual, Apple never listens.”

      The large mail order houses which sell Macs might be well advised to adopt a policy like this on their own initiative.

    4. Jim Sanderson says:

      Your right. I think that when I purchase the first book of the Harry Potter series they should make all the sequels cheaper for me – why should I be forced to pay full price? Come to think of it I bought a Dodge car a couple of years back, they should give me a big fat discount if I buy another Doge. And I got to a local restaurant regularly – I think they should give me a discount everytime I come back. People always want something for nothing. Unfortunately, the reality is that the world doesn’t work that way.

      Maybe a fairer way fo looking at it is “Are the improvements in Leopard worth the cost?” If the answer is yes then buy it, if not then don’t buy it. Simple.

    5. I just received my new iMac running Tiger. It was my decision to buy now and not wait till Leopard is released in October. I’m prepared to spend $129 for each version of Leopard. 😉

    6. Chris Taylor says:

      You have to be kidding me with these comments that the consumer should not be given a break! I run a business and business for the most part is about the money but is also about keeping consistant. I am like many others dazed and confused as I am waiting to purchase a Mac, actually 2 and I am trying to give my money to some retailer who will take my money who has the right answer of when this operating system will be released or tell me I only have to pay the $9.95 upgrade price. Why would pay $129.00 for
      a new operating system for a new computer I just purchased a month before. I am businessman as well, that would be stupid!

      I have never owned a Mac before and I have been excited for months as so many users have told me how great they are and I truly believe they are correct, but prove it by releasing on time or giving me a break to upgrade due to your delay. It is not my fault they cannot get their shit together so why should I pay for it even at all.

      The New Macs are out and they are making a ton from that. The only thing they are doing is creating doubt which cannot help their stock. Realistically they would probably make more money by just giving decisive answers which would get rid of doubts and not cause their stock to go down.

    7. Jim Sanderson says:

      I was merely trying to point out that businesses are not obligated to give out discounts and the vast majority of businesses do so only on special occasions. The reality of the computer industry is that most computer manufacturers do not have a big profit margin. Consumers are NOT entitle to discounts or low prices. They should be pleased when they get them but it is not a right.

      I don’t see where you get “prove it by releasing on time or giving me a break to upgrade due to your delay”. Apple gave a target date for the release of Leopard, then had to change due to the iPhone. The announcement of the delay was about a month before it was to be released. There is no way that anyone could be harmed by that! Since that time the date has not moved, it will be released in October so if you buy a machine in October you will be fine. There is no mystery there! There is no “doubt” as you put it

    8. Christian says:

      Sorry, Jim, but your comments really had little bearing on what I believe is the meat of the argument. I don’t think that anyone expects a discount because some day in the past they purchased an Apple product. There has to be a statute of limitations, but the question is really this: “If I buy a new Apple today, and Leopard comes out tomorrow, should I be able to upgrade for free?” Beyond that, the question is one of how much time should be able to pass before you are no longer eligible.

      Should people have simply bitten their tongues when Apple gave the iPhone a “price upgrade?” 😉

      Also, i thought i should point out that many businesses DO reward return customers through frequent buyer programs. Even some sandwich shops will offer a free sandwich after your nth lunch. Is it really so unrealistic to expect a company to reward returning customers with either a small discount or some other “reward”?

      I think there’s a big difference between any of the things you brought up and a new operating system. I believe it’s a truly valid question to ask: Why should I buy my computer now if there’s a new OS just around the corner? Though many times in technology a future upgrade is just speculation, in this case we know that there’s a new OS just about to come out. It would certainly not hurt Apple’s sales if they addressed the issue and informed people that they would be “covered” if they bought a new system between now and the release of Leopard.

      It simply makes sense, both from the perspective of the consumer who will not be almost instantly outdated, and the business that will sell more units by alleviating consumer doubt and concern about the latter issue.

    9. Jim Sanderson says:

      The point I was trying to make is that people often feel that they are entitled to some free-beey for companies that they have purchased products from. But they are not entitled. Yes some companies do reward us for frequent purchases but there are entire industires that do not offer rewards. Sandwiches yes, computers no. The examples I made were, of course, exaggerated to point out the absurdity of this “give me something for free” culture that we live in now.

      As to the question “Why should I buy my computer now if there’s a new OS just around the corner?” The answer is don’t buy it! As to the other question “If I buy a new Apple today, and Leopard comes out tomorrow, should I be able to upgrade for free?” The answer is yes they already do that. Apple offeres a program where if you buy a computer and within 2 week of purchase a new operating system comes out you get the new OS for free (or almost free). That is Apple’s “statute of limitation”, as you called it. Is it good enough? I don’t think so but that is open to debate. Should Apple give people a discount price when they are already cheaper than the competition? Maybe people should think of it this way: maybe the price they are charging now is the discount price and they just don’t overcharge new customer ike their competitors do.

      The information about OS upgrades for newly purchased machines is available, both on Apple’s website, at Apple stores and proper computer stores that sell Apple equipment (not Best Buy). The onus is on the customer to be aware of what is happening in the industry before they buy anything – be an informed consumer. That is the way the capitalist system works (unfortunately).

      As to “Should people have simply bitten their tongues when Apple gave the iPhone a “price upgrade” I am inclinded to say “yes, they should” Would it have been better if Apple had keep the price high for a few more months, just to keep the early adopters happy? Maybe. Should they cut the price so they can keep the iPhone in line with the iPod prices? Again, maybe. Should they cut the price of any and all products that they can so that comsumers can get the lowest possible price at the earliest possible moment? I think everyone would agree that the answer to that question is YES!

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