Please join me at my new location

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Xcode 4 Features Single Window Interface, new Price Tag

Yesterday afternoon a noticed a big storm of tweets about Xcode 4. One in particular caught my interest:

@JimRoepcke Can you imagine being a Mac App Store Reviewer, looking at your queue and seeing Xcode 4?

At first I figured it was just a thought experiment but a few minutes later I started seeing more tweets about Xcode 4 and Mac App Store. Since the Developer Preview for Lion was sent out through the store I put 2-and-2 together and figured that Xcode 4 was finally released. What I found out shortly there after is that you now have to pay for it.

That's right, Apple now charges for its developer tools. The whopping 4.6GB (that's giga, with a G) is $4.99. Naturally, this set Reddit, Hacker News and my Twitter feed on fire.

Now, I'm not opposed to paying for developer tools. Back in the day I used to do a lot of development on Windows. I went through several versions of Delphi (best language evar) and numerous editions of Visual Studio. The price though, $4.99? What's that about?

After a few minutes of thought a tweeted that the price seemed too low to offset the bandwidth costs. But bandwidth costs aren't what this is about. Neither is offsetting the cost of development for that matter. Remember a few years back when iPod Touch owners were charged a nominal fee to upgrade to a later version of iOS 3.0? After some thought I'm guessing that the same thing is happening again. And like the iOS on iPod Touch, later versions of Xcode will probably not cost anything.

Putting the precedent of iOS 3.0 aside, Apple has come out on several occasions and touted that they give away all the same tools to build apps that they themselves use. This has been a big point for them in the past and it's unlikely that they'd want to make a change now. Granted, Apple has been known to change its mind, and make decisions that are in its best interests. But $4.99 is too low of a price to charge if their planning on breaking even. Especially when you look at the fact that Google gives away all of the development tools for Android -- a platform that currently has more market share.

No, I'm pretty sure that this isn't a money grab. It's probably just a blip required by the bean counters.