Why Apples OS is free and Microsoft costs you hundreds!
With the announcement of OSX Yosemite at Apple's WWDC 2014, many Apple fans, and less fanatic mac users alike are rejoicing! Another free upgrade, and this one actually has some pretty cool upgraded features!
This may be leaving some of you wondering why Apple is releasing OSX Yosemite free of charge like they did with their previous version OSX Mavericks. Surely they've spent a lot of money and diverted a significant amount of resources to work on all the upgrades in Yosemite. They have, with the OSX Yosemite "glass transparency inspired" revamp and general UI/UX taking up a lot of Jony Ive's precious attention. Ive's role has recently expanded to not only be in charge of Industrial design, but also software design, a feat which would ordinarily break any other man.
Still though, Apple continues to reiterate that they're not abandoning the mac side of their business as they believe it is still growing (+12% OSX growth vs -5% decline for the overall PC industry). This is actually pretty significant to be trending up in a downtrend industry.
The reasons for Apple's charitable spirit (other than them being one of the richest companies in the world) are quite simple:
Apple's software is for Apple hardware
Excluding unauthorised Hackintoshes, Apple's operating system software only works on, and is supported by Apple hardware. We all know the premium Apple charges for their iDevices so surely they make enough profit on each piece of hardware sold to cover or subsidise the costs of development. Heck, following Jobs' infamous war-chest cash hoarding, in 2014, they had roughly USD$160billion cash on hand. If giving away free software means that customers have to buy your expensive hardware, then, the choice is really a no brainer.
Their competitors (*cough, Microsoft Windows) can't afford to do it
Until pretty recently, Microsoft's main bread-winner was software. They barely touched hardware in the past few decades. Their entire rise to glory can be attributed to their software business. And boy, did they hold on to that nugget for far too long (Thanks Steve Balmer). Due to their heroin-esque reliance on Software for revenue, Microsoft (once Apple's greatest threat) is still trying to sell their Windows OS to consumers. It is a dying business as users are starting to expect it for free.
Facebook is free. Skype is free. Twitter is free. Mac OS is even free. Tell me why I shouldn't just torrent a cracked version of MS Windows?
If Microsoft continues to outsource all its hardware needs to third party companies, they will not be able to give away their OS like Apple. Sorry Microsoft, but your Surface Pro line sucks. Satya Nadella will really have to pull a golden rabbit out of a hat to get them out of this one! Pivot a bit harder.
User adoption is key
Upgrading to the latest software for most average users is an unnecessary hurdle, that is usually avoided if possible. It is a lengthy process, takes hours to download, might screw with your current software and programs, and is generally "too complex and difficult" for Average Joe to deal with. Add an additional $20-$199 on top (*cough, Windows) and you're sure to shoot yourself in the foot. Just take at Apples graphs below!
Software fragmentation is the devil.
This, if anything, is more of a nightmare for developers than anyone else. Low adoption rates means that developers won't be able to build optimised software for all their users. Who do you prioritise if the audience you're building software for are all on different versions of OS and hardware? By giving OSX software away for free, users will be more inclined to upgrade, and developers can build better apps for users that are all on the same page.
Further incentive to lock users into their inescapable 'ecosystem'
My name is Ben, and I am an Apple addict. Partially by choice, partially by... who are we kidding. Apple has engineered this whole trap. People keep talking about Apple's inescapable ecosystem.
In my opinion, it was probably one of Apple's most ingenious business plans. Whether they planned it from the beginning or developed it through the years, it is absolutely diabolical.
Once you buy a few Apple products, you become ensnared in their web and it is very difficult to ever leave it. All your contacts, photos, paid-apps so on and so forth are more or less stuck in the Apple system, and if you ever leave Apple's lush green oasis, you'll be stranded in a start-a-new-life purgatory. So hey, why not throw in some free software, if it means you'll hook more users into your honeytrap. For the record, I'm actually quite happy being stuck in Apple's ecosystem :)
Everyone likes free stuff!
Come on, you know this is true. +1 Free brownie point for Apple! That being said, here is a free gift for you! I've stitched together a high-res version of Apple's OSX Yosemite background image for your free pleasure. Enjoy
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