Apple releasing iOS7, Mavericks, iLife, and iWork means Apple (still) doesn’t see the value in software. This shift means Apple’s execs are betting in more consumers upgrading higher-margin Apple-made hardware more frequently. Historically, Apple hardware has a 2x lifespan (3-5 yrs) compared against other hardware (Dell, HP come to mind immediately). Have Apple’s recent hardware releases been such significant leaps forward that my current devices so inadequate as to be replaced immediately?
No. Not at all.
In fact, Apple seems to have gone to great lengths to insure my 2+ year old laptop and iPhone 4s run their latest version of their corresponding OS. Unless these upgrades cause my daily machines to slow to a crawl (which I’m not going to tempt for I see no significant benefit to upgrading) I foresee no reason to open my wallet to Apple. There are arguments that this $0 upgrade fee is a front against an Android- or Windows-esque platform fragmentation. Perhaps, but unlike Android & Windows, platform fragment in the Apple ecosystem can only come from 2 places: Apple or Apple’s user base. Perhaps Apple is finally large enough to have a non-trivial % of stubborn, lazy, non-upgrading customers (like me and many corporations I work with). Maybe. But, are the advertised benefits of upgrading today so significant that upgrading is a must?
No. Not at all.
So, if it’s a fight against platform fragmentation – it’s a war internal at Apple. And based on the announcements, the winning side is the one where software is managed through iTunes.
Removing prices (and functionality) on house software is admitting they’ve built a culture where customers expected software to be free. Will Apple will continue to take strategy cues from the most successful third party iOS software and grow in-app purchases within iWork into a significant source of revenue.
Either way, if you’re a developer in the Apple ecosystem (iOS or Mac) this is one more reason to find a non-Apple revenue stream.