Apple ships OS X Lion on USB thumb drive

$69 installer costs over twice the upgrade's Mac App Store price

Apple today started selling Lion on a USB flash drive for $69, more than double the price of the downloaded version.

The USB drive contains the installer for Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, and is aimed at users who lack a broadband connection to the Internet.

Lion, which debuted July 20, is sold primarily on Apple's Mac App Store as a $29.99 digital download of approximately 3.7GB.

Even before Lion's launch last month, some users asked how they were supposed to download the operating system upgrade without access to a fast connection. Apple recommended that customers use the free Wi-Fi network at its retail stores if they had only a dial-up or heavily-metered link to the Web.

According to Apple, Macs upgraded to Lion with the USB drive cannot be restored in case of emergency using the usual recovery partition, but must re-use the thumb drive to reinstall the OS.

Users who want a Lion installer on physical media -- whether on DVD or a thumb drive -- can sidestep Apple's high price by creating their own boot disc or drive once they have downloaded the operating system upgrade from the Mac App Store. Instructions are available from numerous sources, including Macworld, which like Computerworld is an IDG-owned publication.

More information about the USB drive is available on Apple's online store.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

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