Apple ought to reintroduce paid software program updates

For those who’re an OG iPhone or Mac person, then you definately would possibly bear in mind paid software program updates. Over a decade in the past, lengthy earlier than iOS 16 and macOS Ventura, main Apple OS updates used to value customers round $10 for iOS and $20 for macOS. By iOS 4, although, Apple switched to free software program updates, permitting customers to replace their units for so long as they’re supported with out having to pay a payment.

Whereas this may very well be perceived as a win for shoppers, possibly Apple ought to begin charging for annual system updates once more. Not solely may it assist fund extra updates, nevertheless it’ll permit folks to skip an replace in the event that they so select, particularly with Apple’s historical past of lackluster updates each different 12 months.

The why


This thought first crossed my thoughts when studying a rumor about iOS 17 and iPadOS 17. In accordance with the whispers, Apple would possibly push some initially deliberate options for iOS/iPadOS 18 resulting from its give attention to the mixed-reality headset. As somebody who impatiently waits all 12 months lengthy for WWDC, studying that 2023’s convention may be missing as a result of “restricted sources” acquired on my nerves. The primary version of the headset will reportedly cater to a really restricted viewers, and I most definitely do not plan on shopping for a first-generation unit. Consequently, I might a lot somewhat have packed iOS 17 and macOS 14 updates.

So how is charging for updates going to repair this drawback? As a substitute of reassigning some iOS engineers to work on different tasks, such because the AR/VR headset, Apple may simply use the income from software program replace charges to rent extra engineers. This fashion, its finances does not change noticeably, and customers get extra steady and feature-rich updates.

For those who’ve been observing Apple’s current patterns, you would possibly’ve seen that it will launch main iOS modifications and choices one 12 months and within the subsequent will usually consider fixing leftover bugs and glitches. Whereas this technique ensures that the tech debt does not accumulate, it makes each different WWDC comparatively boring. So by charging customers for software program updates, this side turns into an energetic income stream for the corporate, which it may well then funnel into bigger, extra thrilling updates.

The technicalities

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max display review cover

After all, pulling such a transfer when Android OEMs supply free updates would not be so easy. In any case, Apple is known for its lengthy years of software program assist for new iPhones and excellent Macs. It may supply possibly three years of free updates to every newly launched mannequin to protect this repute. Afterward, those that have not already upgraded to newer {hardware} must begin paying an annual payment for the respective working system.

Clearly, Apple would nonetheless difficulty safety fixes and patches to non-paying customers to guard them and their information from public vulnerabilities by way of X.X.1 updates. It might solely paywall X.0 characteristic updates since they’re utterly elective, and never having them would not hurt non-paying customers. Many builders publish their paid apps underneath new App Retailer listings after they launch a serious X.0 replace. In order that they solely preserve a model for a 12 months or so, then swap to a brand new app. This fashion, customers who’ve paid for the outdated model can proceed utilizing it for so long as it really works. Apple may do one thing comparable.

In a means, Apple has already performed this previously. When iOS 16 first launched, the corporate continued to difficulty minor iOS 15 updates to patch bugs and vulnerabilities, even to units that supported iOS 16. It did not pressure everybody to replace to the most recent model accessible for a couple of weeks. Finally, units supporting iOS 16 stopped receiving these updates because the firm stabilized and polished the brand new model. The iPhone maker may use this similar strategy to paywall the brand new OS with out utterly abandoning free customers.

The enterprise mannequin


As talked about earlier, Apple may maintain these updates free for the primary three years since a tool’s launch. Afterward, it may cost the identical outdated charges, with iOS costing $10 per annual bump and macOS $20. iPadOS may go for an inexpensive $15, whereas watchOS would get a tiny $5 tag to match its dimension. For these totally immersed in Apple’s ecosystem, it may supply a reduced $35 bundle to entry all 4 working programs. Equally, these enrolled in its $99/12 months Developer Program can get free entry to all OS updates.

After all, I am merely offering an idea of how the enterprise mannequin for these paid software program updates would work. The precise pricing may differ primarily based on Apple’s analysis and evaluation and a person’s nation of residence.

Small value to pay


Improvement is not free, and it is unfair for customers to count on a service to stay free indefinitely. By taxing a software program replace, Apple may create extra job alternatives for software program engineers. In return, customers would get extra thrilling updates with fewer bugs, extra options, and higher stability. These unwilling to pay can resume utilizing their units usually whereas lacking out on the brand new additions Apple works on.

Would you pay for software program updates if they supply a much bigger bundle? Tell us within the feedback part under.

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