Apple does offer upgrade pricing in the App Store. It's full retail pricing they've obliterated.

Apple does offer upgrade pricing in the App Store. Always. It's full retail pricing they've obliterated.

When Apple released Logic Pro X as a new $200 app a couple of weeks ago, I immediately thought it finally answered the question as to where Apple stood on the issue of upgrade pricing. It was the first paid/pro Apple app on the App Store to update a full version, and instead of adding a mechanism to the App Store to allow existing users to upgrade at a discount, Apple - like Tweetie 2 back in 2009 - simply released the new version as a separate app and asked anyone and everyone, new and existing customers alike, to (re)pay in full. Only... it wasn't really "in full", was it?

Logic Pro X on the App Store, like Logic Pro 9 on the App Store before it, was substantially cheaper than the full retail version of Logic Pro that used to come in a box. $199 as opposed to $499. Likewise, when Final Cut Pro X first hit the App Store, it's $299 price tag was far, far cheaper than the $1199+ full retail price tag of the Final Cut Pro version that preceded it.

Indeed, the price Apple asks for both Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro is far closer to their previous upgrade pricing tier than anything they ever asked at retail. In other words, if you bought Logic Pro 9 on the App Store at full price and later bought Logic Pro X on the App Store at full price, you essentially paid the same as you once-upon-a-time would have paid to upgrade.

So, it's not that Apple has failed to create a mechanism for upgrade pricing on the App Store at all - it's that they've succeeded in obliterating full retail pricing. Everything is now upgrade-level pricing, all the time, for everyone. No upgrade sales, just "everyday low pricing". It's the mainstreaming of software pricing.

(Not dissimilar, perhaps intentionally, to how Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X have evolved in terms of experience and focus as well, alienating power users but empowering mainstream users.)

That might take first-time buyer profit out of developers pockets, and irk existing customers who just hate the idea of new customers getting the same "deal" as they do, but it also simplifies the process on the store side and lowers the barrier to entry for new customers. What remains to be seen if that's ultimately a net positive or negative, and for whom.

There are a ton of arguments many have already made about the continued devaluation of software on the App Store in general, and the consequences thereof, so I won't recapitulate them here, but it very well could be that part of the devaluation, of the mainstreaming, isn't that upgrade pricing has not (yet) been implemented for existing customers, but that it's become the new normal pricing for all customers.

That might be annoying for those of us, developer and customer alike, who grew up in a time before iOS, when upgrade pricing was commonplace. I'm not sure it'll even be a consideration for those growing up now on iOS. It'll just be the way things are.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Apple does offer upgrade pricing in the App Store. It's full retail pricing they've obliterated.


Final Cut Pro used to be $1200?! Holy buckets! What was Logic back then?

By the way, time for a Punctuation Police alert: you've got a naughty period and comma lurking outside of closing quotation marks (unless that's the way y'all do it up in the Great White North!).

The justification back then was that it was a "pro" level product. Today it is fully worth amount it costs. Search the web for some of the complaints about Final Cut Pro 7 vs X to see what I mean. I don't use either Final Cut or Logic Pro, but I do use Aperture. I hope they did a better job with Logic Pro than Final cut, and I hope the Aperture X that eventually comes out will be a significant improvement without losing current features.

I feel this is great news for everyone. It lowers the entry point for the app, so hopefully there will be more purchases. Which should translate into better support and faster bug fixes.

This is not an apples-to-apples comparison, so to speak. The price _has_ gone down, but it's far less than you make it out to be here.

First, Final Cut Pro is $299 on the store, and not $199. As far as I know that's always been the price.

Second, both products—when boxed—were sold as studio bundles. Logic Studio, and Final Cut Studio. They both came with a collection of software and the pricing made quite a bit more sense when you factored in what came in the box.

In the case of Final Cut Pro Studio, we also got Motion, Color, DVD Studio Pro, Compressor, and SoundTrack Pro in the box. There were also a few other auxiliary apps that rounded out the bundle. (

Also, Logic Pro Studio had a similar bundle and it also included SoundTrack Pro, MainStage, Waveburner, Compressor, and also some auxiliary apps. (

I don't believe in the argument that Apple has lowered its pricing for pro apps drastically—especially not to the point of calling it upgrade pricing. Instead, what Apple has done is "de-bundle" their Pro products to hit a lower price point.

Thanks, typo fixed. I think it's both debundling and commoditizing. The latter serves the former. Motion and Compressor are now separate apps and Color built in, but the total cost is still far, far reduced.

One could argue that Apple's marketing and box/retail costs have gone down considerably, and could hence justify a cut to the sticker price. The trouble I see now is that Final Cut's pricing is being interpreted far too often as a huge cut from ~$1200 down to $300, and the interpretation comes from many parties (journalists, users, ISVs, etc.)

Sure, we could probably say that the Final Cut price has dropped to half of what it used to be, but it's certainly not a quarter!

The frustrating bit for me comes from ISVs that are tempted to "follow Apple's lead" and price themselves out of existence based on misinformation. I feel that we're bleeding great apps and great app developers because of this.

Liscio, FCS1 used to have a price tag of 1299US$ (see
If you check the prices of the application pre bundle, you'll see that:

- Final Cut Pro HD was 999US$ (
- Cinema Tools was 999US$ (
- DVDSP 2 was 499US$ (

When Apple bundled the software, it already started to lowering the price incredibly, and he has kept doing it with Final Cut Pro X…

One thing that is missing with this "upgrade pricing" strategy is a way to let existing users know there is a new version. That may not be a problem for high-profile apps like Twitterific, but I guess other apps that are not featured on sites like this will need to implement that themselves.

I agree with this article. The hard part is convincing people of that, which I hope this article helps in doing. And to those who ask "why should a new customer pay the same as I, a longtime loyal customer?" Simple - you got the benefit of using the product for years and years. A new customer didn't. That is worth something.

The problem is communication. If i knew a updated app will be coming in 2 months time i would wait. But now coming in the next day after i made my purchase will simply just piss me off.