Analyst: Free Mountain Lion upgrade would be 'brilliant' Apple move
An upgrade to Mountain Lion might fit the definition of the first, while iCloud enhancements would be a natural for the second.
Using Apple's sales figures for the fourth quarter of 2011 -- approximately 5.2 million Macs sold -- the company would have set aside nearly $114.4 million.
Follow-up 10-Q filings in October 2011 and January 2012 cited the same language, but added that starting in July 2011, Apple would also defer "all revenue from the sale of upgrades to the Mac OS and Mac versions of iLife," and account for the money on its balance sheet over a 36-month period.
The reason for that deferral, Apple again said, was to "include when-and-if-available upgrade rights" for the software.
Such language would seem to signal that Apple could offer a free upgrade to Mountain Lion, at least to those users who either own a Mac equipped with Lion, or have upgraded an older machine to the operating system.
Apple could deliver a free upgrade via the Mac App Store, which has been the primary distribution method for OS X Lion, and will be the sole channel through which it offers or sells Mountain Lion.
Although Gottheil admitted that the SEC filings made free upgrades "a possibility," he gave it long odds, noting that accounting practices encourage companies to defer revenue for software maintenance and upgrades even if they don't call it out explicitly in their 10-Q submissions, as did Apple.
Gottheil also did a quick estimate of what revenue Apple would take off the table by providing users a free upgrade to Mountain Lion.
"Assuming a 20% penetration of the upgrade, it would amount to $180 million to $200 million," Gottheil said. "That's not chump change, but it's also not something that Apple desperately needs."
The business case for a free upgrade are stronger clues to Apple's move than the SEC filings, Gottheil argued, but he also said the Cupertino, Calif. company may have one other reason. "It would be an 'in your eye, Microsoft' kind of move," he said, referring to the likely release of Windows 8 later this year, and Microsoft's inability as a seller of software, not hardware, to give away its wares.
Apple issued a developer preview of Mountain Lion two weeks ago, and at the time said the upgrade would ship this summer. The company has not disclosed the upgrade's price and exact date of availability; it will probably disclose those details at or after its annual developers conference in June.
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 email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mountain Lion mauls other OS X editions for top spot
- Apple consistently convinces customers to upgrade OS X
- Apple to kill Messages beta for OS X Lion next month
- OS X Mountain Lion's torrid upgrade pace cools
- Apple rolls out iOS 6, upgrades Mountain Lion
- OS X Mountain Lion grabs 20% share of all Macs
- Apple's Mountain Lion clears 10% bar, now runs 1 in 10 Macs
- Macs at risk from 'super dangerous' Java zero-day
- Mac laptop owners report shortened battery life after Mountain Lion upgrade
- Mac users left wondering if OS X Snow Leopard's retired
Read more about Mac OS X in Computerworld's Mac OS X Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Mac OS X White Papers | Webcasts