Apple's lie revealed

Today's Apple announcement (switching to Intel chips) is a big shock, but it is only a distraction from the embarrassing announcement they made today that are much more important to enterprise customers that are being robbed by Apple's unethical OS pricing practices. Luckily, I didn't get suckered this time.

When Apple shipped Tiger my Apple Salesanimal contacted me to say that if I thought $120 was too much money for the OS, I could instead pay $200 and not have to pay for any new OSs for 36 months.

Wow! What a deal!

"But wait," I asked, "that only saves me money if Apple ships an OS every single year."

"Nothing to worry about! We've been on track for a new OS per year for every release of OS X!" I was assured.

I didn't have the time or resources to verify this claim but it didn't matter because I realized the flaw in that argument: Every year they have produced a release. However they've been shipping later and later in the year. Panther was in, like, January, right? Tiger was in April. "You aren't shipping one every 12 months! You're shipping one in each calendar year! You're release cycle is actually stretching out!"

Apple: "Oh no, we're really on a 12-month cycle now."

I looked at my watch to check if it was April or was I on crack.

Me: "No, you are on a 15-18 month cycle. If I buy your 36-month 'always up to date' license, I'm really getting two releases on that plan, and the third will miss the window."

Apple: "No it won't."

Me: "Yes it will."

Apple: "No it won't."

Me: "Yes it will."

Apple: "No it won't."

Me: "Yes it will."

Ok, time to try a new way of explaining this. "So, if you ship the 10.6 release 36 months plus one day, I don't get it as part of this license, right?"

"Correct."

"So really I shouldn't buy this 'fantastic offer' until, say, late in December of this year. That maximizes my changes of spreading the 36-month window across 3 releases instead of two. Right?"

Apple: But then you won't enjoy the orgasmic delights of Tiger until Christmas!

Me: No, I run a PRODUCTION SHOP. I can't deploy Tiger until it has gone through internal testing and acceptance. I could buy one or two copies to do that, then buy the rest in December. You see, I'm not a pissant video shop full of arthouse goofballs that think 300G of disk space is "big". I'm not a amateur musician that is impressed at the "Genius Bar" when someone can explain two different ways to "underline text in iWork pages". We do real work with these machines and we have to have discipline about these things. I doubt we'll actually deploy Tiger for a few months.

Apple: "Well, the offer is only good for the next two weeks. Buy it or suffer the consequences."

Me: What if I buy 34 copies of Tiger. What volume discount can you give me?

Apple: What??? Volume discount? We don't do that. Oh wait, yes we do. But you have to get the PO to me by, um, Friday. We cancelled that discount but I'll give it to you anyway since I gave you a quote for it already and it wouldn't look good if I reneged on that.

So I worked up the numbers of the 36-month license vs. buying copies flat out. What to do? What to do?

Spend a lot of money that saves money in the long run or spend a little money now and spend just as much each OS upgrade.

I discussed it with my boss. I met with my CFO. I talked with technical people and financial people.

Finally my CFO and I decided to buy the 34 copies and forget about spending more now in hopes that Apple would maintain their "one OS release per year" goal.

Now I'm glad I did. Because Steve Jobs admitted today that 10.5 will completely blow their schedule.

Apple's next major operating system release will be called Leopard, said Jobs. "We're not going to be focusing on it today, but we intend to release Leopard at the end of 2006 or early 2007, right about the time Microsoft expects to release Longhorn," he said.

When I read that I picked up my phone to call my salesanimal to say, "I told you so." but then I remembered... she'd been fired a week or so ago and they haven't given me a replacement.

Look, I love Apple just as much as any other Unix user, but if they are going to try to maintain "enterprise customers" they have to stop treating us like iPod users.

And if anyone from Apple is upset by me saying this, please give me a call.

--Tom Limoncelli

Update:
I found the release dates:

2001-0910.1 
2002-0710.210-month since previous release
2003-1010.315-month since previous release
2005-0410.418-month since previous release

At this rate, the prediction of 10.5 shipping in early 2007 would be a major failure of any kind of "one release per year" commitment. This is bad news for anyone that signed up for the 36-month "up to date" program, and a real rip off to anyone in the 36-month "up to date" program for OS X Server.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

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1 Comment | Leave a comment

My comment is simple:
Don't blame all of Apple for one jackass sales rep. Our Apple sales rep would never try to do the math the way yours was trying to make it sound. In fact, we often point out little inconsistencies to him and we all have a chuckle.
We only buy the "maintenance" on the OS releases just before one comes out. One of the reasons for us to buy ahead of time is to avoid the justification along the next 3 years (which is very nice). It also avoids actually putting an order in for it... which in a big company can be a lot of work.
We won't be going to Tiger right away either. We also have a production environment. But we do have it sitting on the shelf waiting until our testing is complete.
It does sound like you need a new sales representative though. A good sales rep won't make you feel like you're talking to a sales rep at all.
-Brett

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