Apple confirms Mavericks giveaway wasn't a one time thing, future updates will also be free

Apple confirms Mavericks giveaway wasn't a one time thing, future updates will also be free

During his remarks during Apple's fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer confirmed that Apple's decision to make OS X Mavericks a free upgrade wasn't a one-time fluke. He said "Mavericks and future versions of OS X" will be free.

OS X Mavericks debuted earlier this month along with the introduction of refreshed MacBook Pro models. The new version of the Mac operating system sports over 200 new features, including new Maps and iBooks applications, tabbed Finder windows, tagging, and many "under the hood" enhancements to performance and battery efficiency.

The giveaway of Mavericks - along with Apple's decision to offer its iWork applications for free - may cost you nothing, but it certainly costs Apple. Oppenheimer noted that Mavericks' giveaway, along with free iWork apps for new Mac and iOS device users alike - will contribute to a $900 million increase in deferred revenue for the December quarter, affecting the company's gross margin expectations. Apple will record those deferrals for the Mac over a four year period.

Did Mavericks' giveaway affect your decision to update? Have you gotten free updates to iWork apps, or new iLife apps? Tell me in the comments.

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Peter Cohen

Mac Managing Editor of iMore and weekend Apple Product Professional at a local independent Apple reseller. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Apple confirms Mavericks giveaway wasn't a one time thing, future updates will also be free


My thoughts exactly, OSX will get the support because the desktop and notebook won't vanish and people will be using it in 2016 but that doesn't mean it'll be a priority. I don't believe that (after iOS & OSX) they'll return to paid upgrades but OS Xi may be optimised to work only on new different devices.

I'm not a Mac guy by any means (I use Microsoft for work and Linux for home use), but I've always had a question on these releases (mountain lion, snow leopard, etc.). In comparison to Microsoft's Windows product line, are these Mac releases like upgrading to a service pack (x.1, x.2, etc.) or are they like upgrading to a new version of Windows (i.e. moving from 7.x to 8.x)?

I ask because if these Mac releases are more aligned with a Microsoft service pack upgrade instead of a full OS upgrade, then I don't see why Apple ever charged for them in the first place being that their competitor, Microsoft, offers service packs for free.

LOL nooo...

Every new big cat (and now mavericks) is like going from XP to vista to 7 to 8 and so on...

So yea Apple's competitors offer service packs for free. But Apple offers the entirely new Mac OS. For. Free... :)

Makes sense. Ensuring that people can run the latest OS their computer allows for means potentially less fragmentation and more features hitting the end user.

I have a feeling this is going to result in only the newest models and maybe year old to 2 year old models being able to upgrade to future OS X updates. It would be a $20 loss/yr for Apple but a $1000 plus gain every 2-3 years.

Particularly given Apple's recent model of making the hardware completely user-unserviceable for upgrades, I agree with you and feel this is Apple's way of "cost of doing business" in the lifecycle of keeping hardware on a consistent refresh cycle. Apple probably hates people like me who go LONG stretches between machines. I went from a Performa 636, to a Performa 6400, to a G4, to an iMac (2007) to now adding a MBP (2009) to run alongside the iMac. Meanwhile, I've got from iPhone 4 -> 4S -> 5S. Apple is seeing its more profitable to make my hardware "obsolete" for desire of new software and just eating the software cost as a way to get people to the newer hardware. Apple has said before that they are ok with cannibalizing their own products to bring new directions for customers, and this is in line with that thinking.

Actually, I feel otherwise. It has "wet my appetite" for a free upgrade and placed the seed in my head that as an Apple fan, I deserve new and better features as part of my continued loyalty. It also combines features that can only be used in newer iPhones. So I feel Apple is laying the foundation for keeping its customers on newer hardware to integrate with the Apple ecosystem/lifestyle. That said, I would be more than happy to be wrong!

I don't think that you're wrong but Apple is in it to make money which require constant upgrades alongside bigger and better. If they did't wet our appetites they would not be doing their jobs and wouldn't be here very long.

I don't think it is totally about getting people to upgrade to new hardware. I think it's about taking away the barrier for some people to get a Mac. The Mac hardware costs more but along with that there are benefits like longer resale value, easy repair option in the genius bar, etc. By making the OS updates free it makes it a buzz but having the iWorks suite free gives users who have already paid for Office on some other machine a reason not to pass up the switch.

Mavericks works on my 2010 Air. The last big cut-off in OS X upgrading was full 64-bit support in the hardware.

Personally, I'm ok with $20 OS upgrades. Free's nice, but not a deal breaker for me.

That was already a foregone conclusion - Apple said as much when they indicated they were switching to annual instead of biennial upgrades.

Well with how the hardware costs and the high margins I can see why they are doing this. It makes sense that it is added into the cost and not a paid upgrade like with apps.

"Mavericks and future versions of OS X"
... Is Apple gonna call the next version of OS X - OS X 10? Then we off to OS 11, right?

( ... ten-ten... xD )

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The free iWork apps and Mavericks are a big selling point for me. I was considering a MS Surface tablet but this move by Apple has shown me that they are willing to keep my software and OS up to date. I use Windows Phone and got burned after I bought my first one, a WP7 phone. A year after I bought it MS came out with WP8 and didn't update the older WP7 devices. Thanks a lot MS! I'm buying an iPad Air as soon as I can. That'll be my first iOS device and if I like it I will seriously consider iPhone for my next phone.

Maybe the bank is denying them from putting more money into their accounts so they no longer care for profit :D :P

Because Mavericks was free... I bought a new iMac day of.. And I plan on getting the updated mac mini for the family, day of its updating as well.

I was waiting for Mavericks to release and I was going to purchase it for $20. When I found out it was free, it was a bonus. I got to keep my money. I plan to buy an iMac to go along with my MacBook in the near future. Software updates for free is a big persuader from buying a new Windows machine. I think they have me hooked now.

This is an excellent marketing strategy. You can see this with Nomoore's comment. Most people buy computers periodically. I buy a computer every three years, some do it sooner and others later. However, when considering the costs, we need to consider everything including software. By giving away the OS and the office suite, Apple is making it more affordable to buy mac than windows. When you factor in the cost of MS office, and two to three OS upgrades for windows the PC can be more expensive.

I think it it genius. And as with any genius marketing strategy, it is designed to benefit both the buyer and the seller.

The free software upgrade is just good marketing. It will sell more hardware because you get to keep the SW up to date for free.

Just like Discount Tire will fix a flat tire for free, regardless of where you bought it. They are counting on giving you a good customer experience so you will buy your next set of tires from them.

I've been an Apple user for years and absolutely love the products, but something doesn't smell right with this release of Maverick. Companies with Apple's history of doing everything possible to make a buck off of consumers with closed ecosystems don't suddenly decide to give away its operating system for free. This is a control thing somehow.

Just before the housing and financial melt-down happened everyone thought they were on top of the world. This feels a lot like that some how. Too good to be true.