Apple to Offer Free Tier of iCloud Without Music Streaming? 'Aggressive' Pricing for Mac OS X Lion? [Updated: Education Pricing for iCloud?]
AppleInsider reports that it has received information from a source claiming that Apple will offer at least a basic tier of iCloud services free of charge to Mac OS X Lion users, although it remains unclear exactly what would be included in that package.
People familiar with Apple's plans indicated to AppleInsider that at least one of those secrets is expected to be that at least some of the services included in iCloud will be offered for free to Mac users who make the upgrade to Lion. iCloud is expected to replace the company's existing MobileMe service, which offers e-mail and remote file storage, along with syncing of bookmarks, contacts and calendar events, at a price tag of $99 per year.
That price tag may remain for users who do not make the upgrade to Lion, or for Windows users. But it is expected that the cloud services will become free to Mac users who run the latest version of Mac OS X.
One thing the free tier is not expected to offer, however, is music streaming. Apple has been negotiating licensing deals with major music labels and publishers to support that functionality, and those deals come at significant cost that Apple will almost certainly be passing along to users, although the company may offer a free introductory trial period in order to help bring users on board.
A separate, "unproven" source has also indicated that Apple may be planning to offer a relatively low price point for Mac OS X Lion, enticing users to upgrade to the new operating system. That low price could be specifically tied to Mac App Store distribution, offering users an incentive to embrace the company's new iOS-like distribution platform for Mac OS X.
Apple has historically offered new Mac OS X versions priced at $129 for single installations, although Mac OS X Snow Leopard has been priced at only $29 since its 2009 debut due to its relative focus on under-the-hood changes that may have led some users looking for more substantial visual changes to refrain from upgrading at a higher price point. It is unclear whether an "aggressive" price point for Mac OS X Lion as claimed by the source would match the $29 price point of Mac OS X Snow Leopard or if it would simply be below the usual $129 price point for major operating system releases.
Update: 9 to 5 Mac also reports that Apple may be planning to offer special educational pricing for iCloud services.
A source with some success in the past has passed along that iCloud will have educational-tiered pricing, perhaps being free for students and teachers to a certain level or with the purchase of Apple products.
Apple has been said to be announcing its annual back-to-school promotion offering free and discounted iPods (and perhaps discounted iPads) to educational customers purchasing new Macs at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week. The association of WWDC with the back-to-school promotion would be unusual, but would make more sense if it was somehow tied into educational customer pricing for iCloud.