Stop the Noiz

'Snow Leopard' Isn't Just an Upgrade

Frank Fox - 2009.09.01 - Tip Jar

People continue to forget that Apple is foremost a hardware company, so the software is just there to drive computer sales. Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" points out two very important things about Macs and Apple.

Less Profitable

First, Apple is not making as much money from the sale of Snow Leopard versus Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard". With Mac OS X 10.6, Apple isn't targeting computers more than three years old. When it was introduced in late 2007, Mac OS X 10.5 targeted machines going back five years.

Unless development costs have dropped (not likely), Apple could only recover development costs by selling more computers in the past three years then it did in the five years prior to Leopard. A rough estimate (25 million 2002-2007, vs. 36 million 2006-2009) shows this to be true.

The number of possible Snow Leopard sales is half the problem. Apple has dropped the price from $129 for Leopard down to $29 for the Snow Leopard upgrade. At a 77% discount, even though more Macs are eligible for the upgrade, the price drop is too great to compensate. In other words, Apple can't possibly earn the same amount of revenue on Snow Leopard as it did with Leopard.

Apple spent two years developing an operating system that is going to earn it a lot less money than the last one!

Selling More New Hardware

Second, many new technologies are only useful on the most recent models. For example, OpenCL works only on iMacs sold after March 2009, and support on Mac Pros starts after January 2008. That shows how limited support for the most advanced features is. Only new Macs are getting the full bang out of this operating system.

If it wasn't designed to make money at retail sales or soup up performance on old Macs, what good is it? Like I said, Apple is a hardware company. How is it going to distinguish itself from the millions of PCs sold in the next year with Windows 7? Is the Apple name enough to sell computers?

No. While there may be a few Mac fanboys, most of us buy because of value. We want better hardware, faster operating system - easier to use, better features, fewer security worries - and all of this for a reasonable price. Apple has to deliver, or those who switched will just switch back.

More than an Upgrade

Snow Leopard is not an upgrade. It is the fortress on the frontier in the battle for people switching from Windows XP. Sure, most of it works on any Intel-based Mac, but don't think it was designed for you to upgrade your old computer. Apple wants you to buy a new one that can use all the Snow Leopard technology.

If you don't want to spend $29 to make your computer slightly faster, more stable, and loaded with new technologies, don't. Apple doesn't really care. Spite yourself, if that will make you feel better about the price. Better yet, switch to a PC - Microsoft deserves people like that.

As for me, I'm thinking the 5-user family pack sounds good. I'll eventually upgrade all the computers at my house that I can. I'm excited to get any speed boost. If I am willing to spend $100 for a new graphics card or more RAM, why wouldn't I spend just as much for an improved operating system?

Speed is speed no matter how you get it. LEM

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