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Apple’s Answer on Upgrade Pricing

David Smith wonders whether today’s release of Logic Pro X as a new app sold at full price is the best explanation of Apple’s stance on upgrade pricing to date:

I’d say that this is the best indication of Apple’s intentions and expectations for the App Stores going forward. I wouldn’t expect anything like upgrade pricing to appear in the Stores. It seems like the message is to either give your upgrades to your customers as free updates or to launch a new app and charge everyone again. Neither approach is perfect but I am now very confident that this is the going to be the situation for the foreseeable future.

This is an issue that I’ve long debated with my teammates and developer friends. As someone who’s used to seeing upgrade pricing in Mac apps sold outside of the Mac App Store, I would welcome the addition of built-in upgrade pricing to the App Store. However, on the other end of the spectrum, our Gabe Glick neatly summed up Apple’s possible motivations last year:

Developers and longtime computer users may be used to the shareware, time trial, pay-full-price-once-upgrade-cheaply-forever model of buying and selling software, but regular people, the mass market that Apple continues to court first and foremost, aren’t. Adding demos (“I thought this app was free, but now it’s telling me I have to pay to keep using it? What a ripoff!”) and paid upgrades (“Wait, I bought this app last year and now I have to pay again to keep using it? Screw that!”) would introduce a layer of confusion and make buying an app a more arduous process, which would result in people buying fewer apps.

Today’s release of Logic Pro X is just another data point and it may not necessarily be conclusive, but I believe it further suggests how Apple sees the process of releasing major upgrades to Mac apps. It’ll be interesting to see if Apple will ever do the same for its (cheaper) iOS apps, though.