The desktop operating system is dead as a major profit center, and Apple just delivered the obituary.
Amid a slew of incremental improvements to its iPad tablets and MacBook laptops, Apple today announced some landmark news about its oldest surviving operating system: It will not charge for the latest big upgrade, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, breaking from a tradition that goes back 16 years and shining a light on a long-unfolding reversal in how tech profits are made. Eighteen years ago, the tech industry’s dominant company made nearly half its revenue selling OS licenses. Now, as Apple just confirmed, the prices of OS licenses are headed towards zilch.
Prices of Apple’s Mac OS X have long been on the wane. After four releases that cost $129, Apple dropped the operating system’s upgrade price to $29 with 2009’s OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, and then to $19 with last year’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. Microsoft — the king of the operating system in the ’80s and ’90s and on into the aughts — still charges PC makers who sell the Windows OS preloaded on their desktop and laptop machines, but that business is shrinking, thanks in large part to the continued success of Apple. And just last week, Microsoft announced that, much like Apple, it would not charge consumers who upgrade their machines to the latest version of Windows, version 8.1.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc