The title of this post might sound fatuous to you. The latest update to the Mac operating system, OSX Lion costs only $29, that compared to the main commercial competitor is over seven times cheaper than the full-fledged version.
But when I think of the people I know, my thinking becomes very simple: to be able to buy OS X Lion, you need first and foremost a Mac… either a MacBook, an iMac, a Mac Pro or a Mac Mini. Any of these will do the job. But buying a Mac in general isn’t the cheapest choice. It’s rather the most expensive one, in most cases (except the high-end maybe, where differences are not so relevant). In addition, if your machine is slightly old, you need to buy Snow Leopard at $29.
My point is, for many, the need of a Mac and all its features is not justified by the price: for much less they can have a simpler and cheaper machine running either Windows (for the common user) or Ubuntu (for the geekier one) that can do pretty much whatever they need to do.
And to me this is fine. Peaceful. And Apple is fine too. They still make tons of money thanks to their great ecosystem of iTunes, iPods, iPhones, iPads, App Stores etc. They create beautiful products that are more profitable for them when targeted to the higher market. And selling the hardware is their most profitable market, not the software itself (even thought Apple’s apps on the App Stores are highly profitable too) but high quality software and the ecosystem around it is what’s needed to make the machines so valuable.
To sum it up: to be able to buy the best and most affordable operating system in the world, you need to own the most expensive computer in the world. More or less…