There is a very strong case for Mountain Lion to be a free upgrade. Several commentators and analysts have jumped on this bandwagon since Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow first suggested it two weeks ago.
By all accounts the take up of Lion has been less than overwhelming. Last November only 16 percent of Macs worldwide were running the new operating system. This is not in Apple’s long-term interest, quite apart from the loss of revenue. In time, supporting legacy operating systems becomes a problem and can lead to compromises, so it is better for Apple if a majority of users is up to date.
Windows, even with recent price reductions, still comes with a major upgrade cost. Apple, by contrast, did the sensible thing and priced Lion at $29.99. While this is affordable, it is clear that it is still not sufficient incentive to encourage over 80 percent of Mac users to upgrade. Let us not forget that for Microsoft, Windows has to be a big earner; for Apple, the operating system is far less important as a revenue source. In fact, it represents a tiny part of the company’s gross income.
Free access to Mountain Lion would cost Apple a few million dollars, but it is affordable. And, I believe, it would send out a strong message that Mac users can always be up to date. It would be another compelling reason to choose a Mac over a Windows PC.