Apple should use or lose Software Coupons

For years, Apple has included Proof-of-Purchase Coupons in their packages, noting the specific software included. For example, if you recently purchased a Macintosh, you’ll have Software Coupons for Mac OS X 10.4 and iLife ’06. But when was the last time Apple actually accepted these coupons for discounts on later software?

I used a Mac OS 8.5 Software Coupon that came with a tray-loading iMac to get a $20 discount on Mac OS 9, when it was released many months later. I then later used one of the Software Coupons that came with that purchase to get a CD of Mac OS 9.1 shipped to me for free.

In the era of Mac OS X, Apple has basically done away with upgrade pricing and the use of the software coupons. They offered purchasers of the Public Beta a discount towards version 10.0 and then made version 10.1 a ‘free’ upgrade (if you couldn’t get it at a nearby computer store, it cost you $20 for Apple to mail it to you). But for the last five years, there has been no way to get a reduced, upgrade price for OS X.

And yet every retail box of OS X contains not one, but four coupons, which say “to get software updates and other special offers from Apple, you’ll need the coupons below” and “Important: Do not discard these coupons.” Apple is instructing its customers not to discard these coupons, yet most Apple users would tell you that these are completely worthless and you might as well just throw them out.

This is especially pointless for iLife, which has never had upgrade pricing. If you purchased the retail box of iLife ’05, you also received four software coupons that were simply not applicable for the purchase of iLife ’06 under any circumstance.

As someone who has purchased multiple versions of OS X and iLife over the years, I would appreciate being able to actually use one of the four included coupons to get a slight price break. But if Apple is not going to have upgrade pricing anymore, they should just stop printing these coupons and save some paper.

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