Quality Doesn’t Always Have Sex Appeal: How Much Should Apple Charge for Snow Leopard?

by James R. Stoup Jun 16, 2008

It appears the next version of OS X, a major update to Leopard, will be the aptly named Snow Leopard. What is so unique about this particular release is that, according to Jobs, this will be the first version of OS X to have no new features. Well, perhaps that is unfair. Maybe I should say, no new user visible features, though there will be quite a few upgrades under the hood that developers will no doubt take advantage of. This rather unusual release presents a problem for Apple, namely how much should they charge for it?

If history is any guide they will charge $129 and just tell people to get over it. However, I think even Apple will have a hard time convincing people to pay full price for an operating system with no new flashy features they can parade around. I'm not saying it will be impossible, just more difficult than their usual sell. 

Of course, they could just be jerking our collective chains around. It is quite likely that by the time Snow Leopard make it's debut at least one "wow" feature will be added. Or maybe it will be so fast, so smooth and so magically delicious that the enhanced performance will be the feature to tout. Of course, that begs the question, how fast could they possibly make it? Would you pay $129 to get your operating system to run 10% faster? How about 20%? What is the sweet spot to convince you to upgrade? Or is there even such a number? Personally, I think that Leopard, running on fairly new hardware will run fast enough for most people.

This situation could become eerily similar to that which Microsoft has been faced with in trying to get people to upgrade their systems from XP to Vista. Many people find XP to be acceptable and thus find no need to upgrade. I can easily foresee a similar thing happening to Apple as they strive to convince users that the under the hood enhancements are worth the price. It could become a hard sell.

Getting back to question at hand, I am still curious as to what most people think Apple should charge for this next release. Unlike the first upgrade (when they went to 10.1) this one will most definitely cost something. So assuming that Apple doesn't announce any major new features for Snow Leopard, how much do you think they should charge? Half price? Make it $65? Too low? Maybe an even $100? What would you pay? It may not be fair, but I have a feeling that Apple won't budge from their $129 price anytime soon.


  • I think perhaps Apple is planning on “transitioning” us to a significantly new platform.

    So like the Intel transition, they try to make it look like nothing is really happening. The new OS runs side-by-side the old OS and nobody except us Mac fans realises that something amazing has changed.

    I don’t know how they could charge for it if they want to make it seem ‘insignificant’. Then again, if it really looks identical then perhaps they wouldn’t care if hardly anyone thought it worth the upgrade. Apple might play it in the middle - this is a new OS for new machines and looks identical to the old. I’m leaning towards a minimal charge for this, but followed within a year by an upgrade with many features.

    If I’m right we’re talking OS 11 (vs OS 10)... though I think they like the whole “X” naming. In fact…. if Snow Leopard is OS 10.6, with no new bells and whistles, then could they be moving towards “OSX version 7” at the same time as “Windows 7” is released?

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Jun 19, 2008 Posts: 228
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