Apple puts its price tag where its policy is, charges full price for Logic Pro X upgrade on Mac App Store

Today, with the launch of Logic Pro X one of the longest running questions in App Store history has, perhaps, finally been answered: What will Apple do when one of their major apps gets updated? And that answer appears to be, charge $199 for the new version, same way they charged $199 for the old version just yesterday.

Apple doesn't and has never provided a mechanism for upgrade pricing on the App Store, either for iOS or for Mac. If a developer wants to make a new version of their app, they currently enjoy 3 options:

  1. Keep the same app and make the update free for everyone.
  2. Make a new app and temporarily reduce the cost for everyone, so existing users don't have to pay full price again, and allow new users to take advantage of the reduced price as well.
  3. Make a new app and keep it at full price so everyone, existing users and new users alike, pay top dollar.

The first option makes it harder for developers to justify the resources necessary to offer updates in the first place. The second option increases complexity, pisses of overly-entitled customers who don't think other people should get the same discount they're getting, reduces potential income from new users, and leaves the developer with an orphaned app to take care of. The third option has the same complexity and orphaned app issues as the second, maximizes potential revenue, but pisses off almost all existing users.

For a long time now, the community has wondered what Apple would do. After Apple moved iWork and then pro apps to the iOS and Mac App Store, it was wondered how Apple would handle updates for them when the time came. And wondered. Apple, it turned out, was in no hurry to offer updates. iWork languished for years (and now rumor has it it might go free in the future), Final Cut Pro X already had its big update and X2 is nowhere in sight.

Absent anything else, speculation ran from Apple enabling proper, traditional App Store upgrades just in time for their own release, to Apple bending/breaking their own rules to their own advantage, to Apple simply switching to free for everything.

But now, finally, Logic Pro X. And it turns out, for Logic Pro X, the third option is exactly the one Apple went with. Everyone who bought the original Logic Pro yesterday for $199, if they want the new Logic Pro X today, now has to buy it again for another $199.

One instance does not a pattern make, of course, but we'll likely never get a ton of data points on this simply because Apple doesn't make a ton of paid apps, especially not pro apps. So, for those of us, developers, designers, journalists, and customers alike who've been wondering what would happen when this day came, wondering just what Apple would do when one of their paid apps came up for update, well, we may effectively have our answer.

New app. Full price.

For the record, I bought the old Logic Pro a couple of weeks ago, and I paid $199 for it. I bought the new Logic Pro X this morning and paid $199 for it as well. I did the same when Tweetie 2 launched as a new app, and versions of Twitterrific, and Instacast, and many other apps. I have no problem supporting great developers and designers, including those that work for Apple, and especially for software that used to cost many times what it does now.

However, there's historically been a large amount of backlash when developers charged for new apps. Logic Pro X is such a big update, at such a reasonable price (for a pro app), Apple has so much money, and pro apps are such a small part of their business, that they may well be effectively immune to any negative sentiment this causes.

That's certainly not the case for independent developers who have to feed their families, and who have historically counted on the traditional upgrade model and revenue stream to do it, and are much more sensitive to customer sentiment over it.

This might well be the new normal, and everyone might well have to figure it out going forward. And that could well require a computing generation to happen. iOS migrants, those who started in old-school computing, will likely have the hardest time. iOS natives, those who started with the App Store, likely won't even think about it.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts, though. Whether you sell and/or buy software on the App Store, if the upgrade model really is and will remain "new app", what does that mean for you?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • does today reaffirm anything for you, or make you reassess anything?
    I have no problem at all paying full price for major releases, provided the full price reflects the new, larger App Store software market. $199 every couple of years for a pro tool like Logic is great. I’ve been using it long enough to remember when it was $1500 with an additional $500 for plug-ins/instruments, so the newer pricing seems like a steal. Rebuying each major release definitely makes other aspects simpler, too. There's no need to enter older version serial numbers or prove ownership some other way. There's no issue with cross grades or changing from different platforms. There's no I-had-the-education-version-and-now-I-need-the-full-version. You want it, you buy it.
  • Proving you do have an older version does add complexity.. and it creates a hole for abuse with those who don't really have an older version.
  • I originally paid $400 for the full version of Logic Pro 8 on CD. When Logic 9 came out it was a $200 upgrade. So $200 for Logic X seems like a good deal especially since you don't have to have CDs!
  • I paid 1000 for logic pro 7 and it was the worst version EVER logic 6 was exceptional best at the time imo looks like logic x is what 7 should have been
  • I am fine with rebuying every major release. But the problem would be in this case i didn't know when next version was coming. And if i really bought it yesterday i can tell you i would be very pissed. For Apple this is a special case because Apple has be known to not let out any roadmaps. But What about other devs? And What about those who didn't read the news something new was going to come soon? But What Apple also show was to cut the cost of the software by a lot, and you simply buy upgrade at full price.
  • Those are great questions, and I don't think there's currently a decent solution to any of it. Handling the transition from older version to newer version is really tough. There's no way to offer free upgrades for customers who bought within, say, the last few weeks. It's a shame and it makes the Mac App Store less appealing for professional software.
  • I'm getting a little annoyed with Apple. I buy the retail version for $500 then they drop it to $200.
    Now I have to pay the full $200 to upgrade.
  • Isn't $200 pretty much what the old upgrade pricing would have been anyway?
  • Logic Pro X, the music recording software? Helluva bargain at $199 compared to Pro Tools at $399 for an upgrade. Sure. I'd do it if I needed it. Fortunately, I don't, as I've got Pro Tools 9 working on Windows 8 and Cubase Artist 6 working on my MBP. I only upgrade software when I need to do so based on functionality, not when a developer needs to make more money, so this doesn't affect me as much as it might affect people who need to have the latest version of something, all the time. I can honestly say that if I bought Logic last version yesterday at $199, I wouldn't turn around and spend another $199 on a new version today. I don't have time or money to waste and for me, that would be a waste of time and money. To each, his/or her own on that issue. If you just gotta have the latest version of something like this, get it. i don't.
  • See, DB's got it here. The customers who have been *with* Logic for the whole ride have a piece of it too. Don't tell me upgrades are a hassle and you haven't figured out how to distribute it or authenticate it or whatever. It didn't pose an overwhelming obstacle in the old distribution model, did it? And besides, developers, you're telling your consumers about *your* problems and they're not particularly interested. Why should I care how crucial it is to your business to move to the cloud? I thought it was making things more profitable for you. To the point that you can afford to improve the product and yet charge less for it. Goody for you. But recall you did it on the business these veterans continued to provide you. Until you present your products in a fully subscriber based model where they know what the term-based outlay is going to be, they're going to be sore if they buy today's version and the world changes tomorrow. If they're subscribed it's different. If they know the subscription is near renewal they've probably also checked release cycle news to know what they might be missing out on if they let said sub lapse. It's conceivable that a somewhat stiff penalty could be applied to the customer that wants "back in", but really, what I've seen in the other software markets is that the developer-cum-service-provider (yes that's essentially what it's coming to) just back-dates their current sub and says "hey you lapsed three months? gimme three months and we'll go back to what we were doing." The trick as these guys go forward is how they package these subscriptions. When you refine a product/platform to the degree they are, you're going to drive cost even lower, to the point that the capability provided will become almost commodotized by just a few competitors. The interesting thing (and what AAPL have figured out and executed most deftly out of the gate) is that the differentiation and "bundle" if you will is going to be extending the platform across devices and to have great flexibility as to what constitutes a "peripheral", "controller" or even "interface". Cupertino may have it all wrong on the community side regarding the loyal base that funded or at least subsidized this effort thus far, but you've got to admit, they've got their eye on an ecosystem here and they're in the cat bird seat. Sure, I've used Ardour + Ardroid for giggles. I've tried various DAW controller apps for droid and a few for iOS, some that work with Logic 9. But unless I'm missing a hunch, the degree of flexibility and polish that's about to go into the "peripherals" is about to go through the roof. It will be extremely interesting to see how the rest of the market responds, especially for less closed systems (but also in the LP-specific universe). But surely AAPL's going to see the error of their ways before turning off a fan base to what should be a first-rate platform for a long time. A side note, anybody ever notice how a lot of XaaS growth centers around content creation, and, increasingly the content distribution channels are getting cozy with the tools (now platform) suppliers.
  • I would gladly pay $20 each for new iWork apps. They're already a great value, especially compared to Office.
  • "Final Cut Pro X already had its big update and X2 is nowhere in sight." Actually, I'm not sure about that. When showing off the new Mac Pro at WWDC, Apple said there would be a "new version of Final Cut Pro" to take advantage of all the new machine's power. Will that be a free upgrade for current users or a whole new app? No idea. Actually, I've been thinking about finally upgrading from Final Cut Express HD to FCPX, but after today, I can't help but consider the possibility that the "new version" that comes out this fall will be a completely new $300 purchase for everyone, that it'll be the "FCP X2" that you posit above. Because of this, I think I'm going to hold off on FCPX until this is resolved, so I don't end up paying twice.
  • To be honest, this makes me happy I switched to Adobe...the CC subscription model guarantees me the latest version of the software at any given time and in the long run ends up saving me money if I would have upgraded anyway.
  • I remember when most Pro software was in the $799-2999 price range. Upgrade pricing was often $499 or more. If I'd paid full price yesterday I would be a little upset, but $199 is a bargain for anyone using Logic semi-professionally and a steal if you're making real money with it.
  • I was searching for an update price and found your article. Very clear, thank you. As a Logic user since 1996 (Emagic v3), I'm a bit hurt that I don't get an upgrade price. However, your point that "Logic Pro X is such a big update, at such a reasonable price..." is kinda valid (I paid over $1200 CAD for Logic 5 back in 2003).
  • There is a 4th option: release a new version for the same app (like #1) with as much the same features like before (if feasible) and add an in-app purchase option to unlock/buy the new "pro" features - current users will get an updated app with the option to upgrade, new users will get the "updated core" and developers will benefit from the additional revenue. But I admit in case of Logic Pro X maybe the new features alone are worth the 200$. OTOH only Apple could afford to ignore the usual upgrade path notifications, it may be better suited for indies et al.
  • I bought an eleven rack, and because I fell within the April date, I received a Pro Tools10, and 11 bundle license. Ref the Logic Pro x, if I just bought it yesterday, and had to pay full price again, would not be an issue if the new version was a a total rewrite. If it was just a basic upgrade, I would not buy it. We sort of went through this when Apple dumped the new iPad for the iPad 4. Due to the outcry, refunds were given. I do agree with omichde's 4th option. That makes better sense.
  • Does Apple not providing a mechanism for trial versions relate to this lack of an upgrade pricing mechanism? The lack of trial versions means I do not buy apps from the App Store. I would gladly pay $20 for a financial management app, but not if I'm stuck with the cost and find out two weeks in that it sucks, and I won't pay for 3 or 4 of them at $20 a pop to find that 1 good one. That hurts many small developers who would otherwise be getting my money. I can't imagine there's any technological limitation to providing trial versions or upgrade pricing. Seems kind of silly that Apple fails to do so.
  • Scotty , I totally agree!! Apple is so smug it makes you not want to do business with them. I was thinking about getting Logic, but not now, I will stick with Cubase Mikey the Great
  • To be fair, originally, Logic used to cost $499 and the upgrade was $199.
  • I'm sorry, I can't agree with you. I'm a student, on a student budget, who uses Logic Pro for school. $199 for a new user interface and some loops? Sorry, not this time. Pro Tools 10 Student Edition just got a free upgrade to Pro Tools 11...
  • This is an Apple product scenario. With a developer that really doesn't care wether you buy or not. Probably prefer for you not to buy as excuse to dump out of software development. The real issue is the thousands of developers who have a non-pro customer base that will be very tardy in upgrading at full retail. In reality there is no reason why apps on the App Store, given that proof of previous purchase is easy, could not be sold as upgrade. I find once again in favour of the greed machine from Cupertino !
  • TOTALLY! Greed machine is right. And I couldn't agree more, with BILLIONS hiding in offshore tax shelters, Apple couldn't care less if we buy Logic. I bet the music production software VP @ Apple is considered an ass clown
  • What if I want the old version so I can run it on 10.6.8. I can't because it's gone. This is a big problem with the App Store. If you lose a drive and have to restore to a previous sytem version, the App Store won't let you get older versions that run on your previous OS.
  • Cuz Apple SUCKS
  • This seems like a bit of whining to me. Given the upgrade prices of the competitors or other companies, Pro Tools, Abelton, Native Instruments, two things remain clear: This product is priced hundreds of dollars below new prices for Peformer, Pro Tools, Live, Digital Performer, Reason, even FL. Secondly, unlike some other companies that have announced three new version updates in the past 2.5 years, Apple takes its time with new versions, adding a significant feature set with each release and doesn't nickel and dime it's users once a year. Since I'm no longer officially a student, show me a better "upgrade price" for a competitor. Pro Tools 11 $299, Ableton Live 9 $159-$299, Digital Performer 8 $395. I'm getting a whole new stand alone software for less than the price of a competitor upgrade. And I can still have 9 installed. Pound for pound, Logic X is a whole lotta DAW for not a lot of cabbage!
  • I think the software is well priced at $199. Unfortunately I bought Logic 9, seven days ago and feel very ripped off that there is no friendly upgrade path. I tried to put my case to Apple but they referred me to their T&C's. To me this is not good customer service.
  • "To me this is not good customer service." - Seconded
  • Michael Boyle, email their app store cust svc support, I bet anything they will upgrade free of charge.
  • The price is OK and seems more like an upgrade price to me. But, what worries me is that it requires 10.8.4 and I am not really sure I am yet willing to upgrade my rock-stable Snow Leopard 10.6.8 on my studio workhorse Mac Pro to 10.8.4 which I have on my MBP and, personally, don't like at all.
    So I feel like forced to upgrade to Mountain Lion which is a huge step because I will loose half of my more rare plug-in sound-banks which are not compatible.
    And it also says 64-bit which means I can not even install it to my MBP to try it out before I go to 10.8.4 on my Mac Pro.
    Also, is there a way to have a multiple-computer installation with the App store Logic Studio version?
    I know it sound counter-intuitive but with music pro software it does make sense to have a single licence that works on only one computer in the network (as it was before).
  • "...overly-entitled customers..." Wow, Rene, those customers keep the company afloat, don't they?
  • As someone who bought Logic 9 less than a month ago , let me just say, I'm about ready to throw my retina laptop across the room. Just about every other software company that has new releases of expensive software gives you an option to upgrade at a lower rate. It really feels like getting the shaft.
  • I will not be paying for the Logic Pro 9 code twice, which is exactly what would happen if I paid full price for Logic Pro X. The argument that it is "still a good deal" is a bad one. I wish a writer would put up an article that at least voices the opinion that it is wrong to ask users to pay full price for the same code twice. I'm surprised that nobody else is posting in this vein, but I suspect you have a larger budget than me. I'm a graduate student who makes music for fun, purely hobby. I wanted more features than GarageBand, and I'm very happy with the Logic Pro 9 purchase. I would love to throw down a reasonable (for my budget) amount of money to play with the new toys in X, but that just won't be happening. Sadly, Apple will not even notice my protest!
  • There should certainly be some credit given for previous ownership. Especially when many of us bought when it was around $500. Should be something like 50% reduction for upgrades as compared to new purchasers. Would likely encourage existing users to happily upgrade rather than sitting around being pissed off and complaining on forums like this.
  • Just read this article that might help some of you out who recently bought Logic 9 (you'll have to search for it b y highlighting the text as this site won't let me post a link) - Logic Pro X Upgrade Now Available If You Purchased Logic Pro Within 30 Days Of Release
  • Will it even run well on a 13" Macbook pro retina with 8GB RAM? Somehow I doubt it
  • Thanks you summed it up pretty well.
    My first Mac but decades in the Software Business.
    Been arguing back forth for days they are out of step with the rest of the industry.
    I purchased the old version a few weeks prior to the new version release.
    So effectively the nice $200 price tag has doubled.
    Not very happy about their attitude.
    I've heard that some have won the argument and got a refund on the old, then bought the new.
  • It really pisses me off. that i bought this software just two days before i go to holiday and after my vacancies i found out that a new version is released which will ask for another 180 euro, the same then i have bought it just before.. only one test after implementation i have done.. to see if the application is running.. nothing more..
    now . i will never get any support on lp 9, and i guess this is clear.
    have had converstation with customer support ends up with "no, do not answer anything anymore and best whishes and bye"
    this attitude is really to complain and not even a grace period is something they have been thinking about nor that they could have announced the release one week before..
    I guess this is squeezing every money out of the much as possible..
    maybe they need financial result more then the satisfaction of users over a long time.
    I know for sure that i will remember this behaviour for a very long time and will never ever bye any costly software again on itunes/app store.. and will buy this kind of stuff better at amazon or any other company.
    If i could i would have sold this fucking software to someone else very cheap ..
    there is a horrible discussion on the support page of apple and 3-4 users who might have been paid by apple work as "experienced users" to calm down and lead discussion to easy peacy stuff,
    not worth to discuss. It is very obvious that they are member of customer service of apple.
    the bad thing is that not many users has bought this software maybe in the last 30 days to complain and i am not sure if it is worthwhile to get legal help on this.
    Clearly this kind of behaviour was surprising and they should have announced it i view days before the launch.
  • I'm surprised at all the whining...the writings been on the wall for months now that Apple was about to release a new version of Logic. It's like buying Native Instrument's Traktor S4 DJ controller now and getting pissed off when they release their new model in September. Do your research before you buy.
  • I bought Logic 7 at $1,000, then upgraded to Logic 8 for $399, then upgraded to Logic 9 for $199, so far I've spent $1,700 on Logic software, I'd expect Apple to show a little support for long time customers... To hell with Logic X! I'm using Logic 9 which works fine for me so far, if for some reason I can no longer use version 9, I would just stop using it period. I have ProTools 11 and Ableton Live 9. Heck, I might even give Reaper a try for $59 for non-commercial license before I throw more money away on Apple software.
  • I'd suggest you give Reaper and Cubase a try. Even try out FL Studio or Samplitude.
    Heck, anything to get as far as you can from Apple's Logic! You'll be a lot happier when you've moved away from that dying dog of a DAW. Now I just can't imagine how anyone gets work done in there, you've got to have the patience of a saint to even manage. You spend hours tweaking one automation lane at a time, switching between pointless "modes", using obtuse work-arounds and third-party software for common functionality, and dealing with OSX hangs... and they want you to pay for what is essentially an x.5 update with a handful of features that better DAWs have had for years already. Move on for your own good.
  • I agree with Plasuma and with many of the others. Sonar/Cakewalk, Pro-tools, Steinberg, all have "upgrade" paths and adjust their price accordingly when upgrading from prior releases and take care of their existing customers (no matter how complex the new release may be). I've been waiting for Logic to become more user friendly, and to do something about improving on it's external midi interface process which currently sucks big time and makes it almost impossible to setup external hardware. How hard can it be to do what other products do and include configuration files you can directly edit or import, or create from a hardware "sysex" dump to define the banks and programs so they can easily be selected from a drop-down list without having to spend countless days and weeks keying in the information yourself only to find out that you still have to setup routings to make it work. There used to be a third party interface that worked rather well, but that was discontinued a long time ago, probably because it worked too good. I've been using Logic since version 8 was released and I am seriously considering going back the other applications strictly for their ease of use in editing and setting up of external gear. Besides their plugin tools for editing in many cases are much better than logic. Perhaps the functionality of the product is not so bad once you have experienced a good amount of PAIN trying to learn all the shortcuts and tricks, but shouldn't be that hard. Sorry for the rant........but I would have expected more out of Apple if they wanted to really compete with the other products on the market, especially since they have had more than enough time to work on release 10.
  • It's very simple. Existing users should benefit from a discounted upgrade price: New users pay the full price. End of. Regarding many of the comments above, I agree that even with the addition of some new features, it's not worth $199 to those upgrading, particularly when some of the "star" features are catching up on way better plugin-ins E.g. Steinberg's Groove Agent beats (!) the hell out of Logic Pro X's Drummer!!! Also, I've been using Logic Pro 9 for about 12 months (previously used Cubase) and I'm yet to get a really decent guitar sound from their native plugins. Cubase, by comparison, was excellent in this department. Final point is that while Logic Pro has some excellent features etc....I really don't think it's worth shelling out more for the upgrade!!!