You're still paying anywhere from $999 to over $3,999 for a traditional Apple machine. The value proposition of a free OS is much more intriguing on a Mac mini starting at $599, but again, it's only a $20 savings compared to the price prior to yesterday's press event. That's hardly a disruptive force.
The other reason why I don't think this is a huge deal is because Windows users are notoriously clingy. According to StatCounter, over 72 percent of the world's computer-using population are still running Windows XP or Windows 7; a little less than 8 percent are using Windows 8. Dating back to at least the Windows XP era, it's fair to say that most Windows users continue to run the OS that came with their system until it's time to buy a new computer.
Further proof is found in Microsoft's financial report(s). In 2012, the Redmond software giant raked in over $19 billion in revenue from Windows sales, and almost two-thirds of that came from OEMs. The OEMs then pre-load Windows onto new systems and sell them to the public at various price points.
A quick peek at Best Buy's website reveals that one of the lowest cost Windows 8 laptops that's not refurbished is right around $266. In fact, there are several models selling for less than $300. Apple giving Mavericks away doesn't do anything to change that Windows systems are dirt cheap to begin with. If Joe Budget has $500 to spend on a new computer, he still can't afford an Apple system even though the OS is free.
What's far more interesting to me is Apple's decision to pre-load iWorks on new iPad models and Mac computers, versus continuing to charge $10 for each of the three included apps (in other words, a $30 savings). Microsoft blinked when it came to releasing a version of Office of iPad, and Apple capitalized by undercutting its rival's offering before it even exists. There was potential there for Microsoft to cash in on iPad users, and that opportunity has now largely passed, though it's worth pointing out that iWorks isn't free for existing iPad and Mac users.
In any event, let's not lose our heads over what just happened. Again, I'm all for Apple giving away product and services, but let's not go crazy here and start writing Microsoft's obituary because Apple decided to make a $20 OS free, and a $30 productivity suite free for select users.
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