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Xcode now costs US$ 4.99 (apple.com)
207 points by rbanffy on Mar 9, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 385 comments

Seeing this reminded me of a Microsoft focus group I was invited to be a part of a few years ago. As a CTO who had decided to build everyone on top of free software, they wanted to know what it take to make me to switch to a Microsoft stack. I told them they were 10 years too late. You see, I made the decision to use LAMP stack not because it was cheaper, but because it's what I knew. And the reason I knew LAMP stack was because that's all I could afford when I was 15. The question for Apple isn't whether businesses or experienced developers can afford their development tools, it's the teenagers they should care about. And while, $5 is still well within the average teenagers reach, it's still a lot more friction than free. This decision seems short sighted to me even if the effects of it aren't immediately apparent.

And while, $5 is still well within the average teenagers reach, it's still a lot more friction than free.

Smalltalk companies did this to themselves, but with a smaller userbase and bigger fees. (Which is worse in both dimensions!) With $5000 seats, the friction was hella high. Then Java came along with tools that weren't 100th as cool, but which were frictionless and free.

It's kinda the playbook for being a superior technology with an earned reputation for coolness, then losing anyhow because your userbase doesn't grow as fast.

Great, so all someone needs to do is make a decent Cocoa IDE (don't forget Instruments and an iOS simulator!) and give it away for free. Problem solved.

Yes, the solution to you not willing to pay $5 is for someone else to invest hundrends of thousands of dollars (at programmer's market pay) to re-implement XCode.

I do develop open-source software (SumatraPDF) and give it away for free, but this kind of attitude of entitlement always gets me.

My point exactly. Although if someone really does want to re-implement Xcode, more power to them I say! Me, I'll pay the 5 bucks.

This is a lot harder than just paying $4.99 for Xcode, but I wonder how difficult it would be to adapt GNUstep's developer tools to Cocoa development.

How about a bunch of us pay $5 to do that? Kickstarter project?

> Great, so all someone needs to do is make a decent Cocoa IDE

You can start from here: http://www.gnustep.org/experience/DeveloperTools.html

Not so much if you want to do any iOS work.

If doing iOS work isn't worth five dollars to you, than how much you can be said to "want" to do it is up for debate.

I get the impression everybody is preaching to the choir here for the most part.

JetBrains is working on an IDE for Cocoa developer and guess what it wont cost 5 bucks thats for sure.


> Java came along with tools that weren't 100th as cool

That's one hell of an understatement...

That's one hell of an understatement...

I just want to relate the experience, not start a flame war. Java tools are pretty darn cool nowadays.

Still, Smalltalk is seriously cool.

I think the pricing was only one factor of Java's success. Smalltalk, for the C programmer, is pretty alien. No source files, no compiler... That takes some to get used to. Java provides a nice path towards OOP that's more forgiving than C++, yet, it's aesthetically compatible with C.

Version control also seemed an issue - commercial Smalltalks had tools like Envy - but all the projects I observed in the telecoms world seemed to have a senior developer doing nothing but merging images for the duration of the project.

Indeed. Having source files helps a lot. Smalltalk images suffer from Amish Bread Syndrome. Not being able to build your image from sources and sources alone is disturbing for me and I learned OOP with Smalltalk (later moved to Actor on Windows, but, still, without source code as text files).

Okay, I'll bite. "Amish Bread Syndrome"? The Googles do nothing.

The Googles lead me to Amish Friendship Bread, which requires a starter that you have to get from someone else. Thus, without the starter you can't compile your bread from sources. At least, that's the best I can come up with in three minutes. :)

all the projects I observed in the telecoms world seemed to have a senior developer doing nothing but merging images for the duration of the project.

Envy had a few pathologies, but I think there were pathologies in the projects as well.

If you look at Facetime on the Mac App Store, it costs $0.99. If you get a new Mac, though, it's free (included). Xcode has historically been included on the install media for OS X (e.g., with Snow Leopard). It's still a separate install, of course. I expect Xcode 4 will still be available on the OS X Lion install media. Buy OS X 10.7 and the media will most likely include Xcode 4. This is a normal Apple pattern.

We shall see. But this $5 is a lot higher than what they charged for in the past (though the 802.11n drivers were $3 I believe)

Xcode isn't included on Macbook Air.

Right... and 5$ is hard to pay when your a teenager, just because you don't have a credit card yourself.

Teenagers might not have credit cards, but they receive iTunes gift cards as gifts, which they can now use on Xcode.

I'm trying to think of what would've happened if I had to ask my parents for their credit card every time I had to download some tool when I was a kid just messing around with programming.

I probably wouldn't working in the field today, that's for sure.

On the other hand, I begged and pleaded with my parents for weeks to get a copy of Microsoft BASIC, and later on a modem.

So not only did that lead to me being a programmer for a living, I got some negotiation skills out of it too.

I definitely agree with you, having grown up on free tools, but $5 is a lot easier to ask a parent for than $99/year to get access to this kind of stuff.

It's doubtful that today's parents need to be convinced of such things. Not only is $99 cheaper than that piano of yesteryear, it also has a significantly higher rate of return.

Seriously. If one of my kids asked me for 5 bucks to buy Xcode, I wouldn't hesitate for a second. I wouldn't even make them do the dishes first.

The whole using a credit card online adds a lot of hesitation for parents, even if it's $5. It did for mine.

The $99/year thing is not terrible. I remember saving money from my paper route to buy tools/lib licenses to some specialized things I really wanted.

Selling your parents on a single $99 purchase is a lot easier than trying to sell a $5 purchase every week. 'Tis just the way it is.

jarin below mentions he wouldn't hesitate buying his kid Xcode for $5... that only works if the parent is in the field also. How many, say, accountants or lawyers would buy their precocious coder-child a bunch of tools or understand the importance of it?

>"I remember saving money from my paper route to buy tools/lib licenses to some specialized things I really wanted."

Today, a teenager would say, "What's a paper route?"

s/paper route/burger flipping/g?

Problem is you need a car first.

All the hypothetical teenager would have to do is point them to one of the many news articles about other teenagers making millions on the App Store.

Was the world less credit card centric when you were a kid? It may be different now.

iTunes gift cards are not abundant resources everywhere.

They're a lot more abundant than the Mac you need to run Xcode on, though.

iTMS cards are purchasable at every 7-Eleven and nearly every major supermarket, Wal-Mart, Meijer, Target or what-have-you in the USA. You can buy Xcode with $5 in nickles if you have access to a Coinstar machine.

Let's be realistic, the hardware demands are much more serious than $5 on an iTunes card. The problem here is the message Apple is sending.

> iTMS cards are purchasable at every (...) or what-have-you in the USA.

Outside the USA, what do you do?

Either buy the gift card in your country, or alternatively get a US gift card on eBay.

See the kind of convoluted procedures this silly price is making people do?

Plus until recently you couldn't use a gift card in Canada to purchase anything in the AppStore. Or an American paypal balance, or a canadaian checking account through a verified American paypal account.

I don't understand? I don't like Apple's geographically segmented marketplace either, but in the end it's not too big a problem to get around.

I have never been to a retail store where I didn't see them available.

Speaking of purely US-only experience, of course.

What countries have you been to?

They're in pretty much every major supermarket in the UK and Ireland.

Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think they even exist in Portugal.

iTunes cards are available in most supermarkets and electronic stores in Switzerland.

Especially when a sense of entitlement is free!

You can get Visa gift cards at the convenience store for $10. If a teenager can't find the motivation to scrounge up 10 bucks, they're going to have a hell of a time learning how to program.

Are you sure that this:

  You can get Visa gift cards at the
  convenience store for $10.
Applies everywhere in the world? Or is it only people in certain countries that matter?

Only people in certain countries matter. Most of the world just pirates software.

That is cruel and incorrect. People pirate software everywhere.

Many successful hackers were brought up in places where $5 is nothing to be sneezed at, and the dance of getting-that-$5-into-Apple's-pocket can cost you more than that in time and effort alone.

How is that cruel? When talking about revenue generated by software firms only people in certain countries matter. How much money do you think apple makes from the entire african subcontinent, for example? Why should apple give a crap about making it easier for that group of people to purchase their developer kit?

If you read my reply again you'll find the answer to both 'how' and 'why'.

You and I obviously have different definitions of cruel.

Also, "Many successful hackers were brought up in places where $5 is nothing to be sneezed at".. so fucking what? The revenue they bring to the table is immaterial. They don't matter to a large company.

Visa is everywhere you want to be.

It's not about money it is about investment. $5 dollars means you have to invest into the system. Free means that you just spend a bit of time downloading and installing. If you stop using it after a half hour who cares. Money though has a higher barrier of entry.

Yep, that's why I avoid commercial operating systems like the plague. It's why I initially became a gcc based C++ engineer. It's why I then became a Tomcat/Java engineer. And it's why I'm currently messing around with Android.

Friction is a good word for the problem. Who knows? Maybe in another life I would have actually used Microsoft's stack. I used their tools in college, and at work when they were provided...

Right -- and providing dev tools and server platforms for free to students at the high school and college levels is why the MSDNAA and DreamSpark exist on the MSFT side of things.

Of course, it took literally a couple of years to get each of those programs started. I remember spending months just arguing back and forth about whether or not an edition of Office should be in MSDNAA (since it is a development platform, from the point of view of add-ins, Access, etc.) and how much lost revenue it would be.

And how popular is DreamSpark? I signed our organization up for it, did all the hard work and provided easy download instructions & serial keys. I had exactly 0 (zero) takers.

It's just still too convoluted compared to the OSS options out there. Everyone uses PHP, Python or Ruby.

I realize that Microsoft still has 90% of the personal computer market, but it all reads like the last days of Big Blue to me. The king is still king, but the writing is on the wall.

And this is not a Linux neckbeard saying this.

CS majors love them some Visual Studio.

As a current uni student, I have access to both DreamSpark and academic alliance, I probably wouldn't even have windows on my dev computer otherwise, let alone any of the dev tools and the being able to access free quality software from Microsoft really improved my opinion of them and it's important to get that mindshare of new developers if they want to stay such a huge force.

Which is one of the biggest reasons why Microsoft's Developer Division created and gives away the Visual Studio Express product line[1], and supplements it with websites like the Beginner Developer Learning Center[2].

[1] http://www.microsoft.com/express/Downloads/ [2] http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/beginner/default.aspx

if someone can afford an apple pc, he for sure can also afford 5$ for a good software! if anything, this should teach the teens that good software can also have a price.

teenagers dont often have credit cards.

Considering that you still need a mac, I don't see how much difference it makes. Note that I still think it's a terribly stupid idea.

Right, but who bought them that mac?

If we're arguing about imaginary teenage hackers to fit whatever argument we need...nobody, they're running a hackintosh on a $200 netbook and they're pirating XCode anyways.

I imagine this will be like xcode for iphone only working on intel macs. You could develop (but not release) on PowerPC mac by changing a couple plist keys, and apple still sold a lot more macs anyway.

Remember there are places in the world where you can get a Mac but can't get an Apple store account.

Maybe nobody. Maybe it belongs to Mom or Dad.

When talking about teenagers (the 15 to 19 year old crowd), they may not be the ones buying the Mac directly.

I also think this is an unnecessary and dumb idea.

Completely agree

Completely agree Josh

I'm an academic who develops Free / Open Source software and distributes libraries and binaries for the Windows, x86 and x86_64 Linux and Mac platforms along with the source. One important library generates C code based on a domain specific language, links a shared object and uses that; on Windows and Linux, we ship a cut back gcc and libtools to do that; libtools doesn't work on the Mac (at least last time I looked into it), so we asked Apple for permission to distribute their linker back in 2005, and they said no, so we have been telling Mac users to sign up for a developer account and install XCode (stupid since they had to download multiple gigabytes for a fairly small binary).

Even getting XCode for our own use to put on our Mac build server will be difficult now; $4.99 may be a token price, but any price in the academic world means that things have to get charged against a cost centre; policies mean it probably can't be charged as IT overhead (like Mac build servers and operating systems can) because it is specifically for development, so it needs to be justified as part of a grant. For things like that, the University will probably want Apple to go a months long process to become a designated approver (Apple hardware is not normally purchased direct from Apple), and to pay for things like that by purchase order - the administrative cost of which would be greatly more than $4.99.

The end result of all this is that Apple will probably not be a supported platform for our software any more, and users will be asked to use a virtual machine or move to a different platform if they want to use our software.

Apple is already one of the most difficult platforms to develop on, largely because of the way their linker and object loaders work; it is one of the few platforms (I think Irix is another) where objects to be opened with a dlopen like mechanism are in a different format to normal shared objects; making the barriers higher for academic users trying to develop multi-platform software will simply result in academic and other free software being less available on Mac; some academic users like being on Mac, but I expect that as it becomes progressively more of a disadvantage and Apple becomes more of a pariah, this will change.

Every Mac still ships with Xcode on the OS install disc, as do the OS X upgrade discs. Let's wait until Lion comes out before assuming that won't be the case anymore.

The MacBook Air doesn't ship with Xcode.

I have a current model 11.6" Air purchased in January, and Xcode was pre-installed into /Developer.

This was a stock machine: walked into Apple Store to buy it. (No special factory config)

Compiling SBCL and a few items from MacPorts worked fine, so everything seems consistent with what I've seen on other Macs since 2005.

Xcode 3 is still a free download from http://connect.apple.com/ also on the Xcode 4 page it has a link in the bottom right that allows you go to the Xcode 3 download page.

The GCC toolchain can link Mach-O binaries without using any code from Apple. Building GCC cross-compilers like this is a pain, but crosstools takes a bit of that away:


Basically, you can generate your own binaries and ship them under the GPL. No Apple needed.

I'll ask for more info from someone I know who built an OSX cross-compiler under Linux.

Who said anything about cross compiling? It sounds like he'd be fine with regular GCC+binutils. (I don't see anything about Mach-O support in the ld manual, though...)

I think this would be considered a cross-compiler, even though you are building OSX on OSX. You would be building a version of GCC that targets OSX with a different version of GCC.

Xcode 4 will still be included for free with the OS, I'm willing to bet, just like previous versions were.

Nobody should have to pay for development tools when the company profits substantially from the individual developing for their platform. They're going to raise the price even higher as time progresses, simply because they can. Apple is a monopoly within it's own bustling platform, nobody rivals iTunes on the Mac other than Songbird, and few use Songbird. That's a very similar situation with iLife. And then the way apps are mass marketed to people is being directly controlled by Apple as well now with the Mac App Store. Apple sounds a whole lot like Microsoft in the 90's and early 2000's. However, there's a striking difference between them and Apple, Microsoft kept it more open, they focused on the software side of things and just that. Microsoft focused on owning and maintaining the platform, whereas Apple is focusing on being the platform.

That sounds more like a problem with academia than Apple. Just sayin'.

When the software costs only a few bucks more than the DVD you could burn it on and warez it from a friend, and a fraction of the price of the USB stick it would fit on, you know you're being cheap.

I'm in academia too and if XCode 4 doesn't come with Lion, I would gladly pay from my pocket for it. Imagine that I would put the bureaucracy machine of a university or institute for 5 bucks is ludicrous. Our salaries are lower but we are not below the poverty line.

I'd hope that in academia your term paper isn't held up waiting for a couple of new white board markers, or a ream of paper because your requisition form wasn't approved.

It's somewhat discouraging that Apple is charging for what used to be provided at no cost. Still, if Apple can't make five bucks on a product that other companies sell for hundreds, what hope do any other developers have?

We usually don't have problems with markers or paper, the department has a stock of that. There's no lack of money in academia, just wasteful spending.

Wait and see if Lion comes with XCode. Then we can say they are actually charging for it.

Are you really saying that you can't afford to pay $5 from your own pocket for XCode 4?

What price, other than $0, would be acceptable for a tool that took years of effort by a team of programmers and cost Apple tens of millions in programmer's salaries to develop?

The point is not that it's $4, or $10,000 or $0.25. The point is that now that money has to come from somewhere. This throws up a sizeable obstacle for anyone looking to do development on the platform and will especially hurt FOSS.

If you can't see this, I don't really know what to say. Apple literally makes billions of dollars on software, you'd think they'd throw the developers that literally helped build their ecosystem a freaking bone. I suppose that's too much to ask from Apple.

Cue the "vote with your wallet", "no one is forcing you to use it" rabble...

No, cue the you're assuming you won't get Xcode 4 with Lion rabble. Seriously. Don't jump to conclusions yet.

Can you clarify the $5-hurts-FOSS argument? I don't mean to sound crass, but there are people who pay more than $5 for coffee. If a one-time charge of $5 to build OS X versions of your FOSS project is a, as you say, "[sizable] obstacle" to entering FOSS development, that's a genuine surprise to me. Especially since Xcode 3 is still absolutely free. If I were a committer on your project I'd buy it myself and donate it, for crying out loud.

They anticipated this, undoubtedly, and put the button right there: "Looking for Xcode 3 because $5 is too much? Here it is!" You're really only paying for the improved GUI. Does your FOSS project use Xcode as its primary development platform, or is it just using the compiler toolchain?

This revolt to $5 is absolutely stunning. Even more worth thinking about is that all the commenting about it on HN equates to far more than $5 in billable time...how many copies could the revolting have purchased?

The reason that people are pissed is that it's one more annoying hoop to jump through, especially for people without iTunes accounts.What about people kids without credit cards or Paypal?

All this for what? A paltry $10 million or so for Apple which is already rolling in tens of bilions of cash(partly thanks to developers, you always see Jobs touting the app count). Is it even worth it for Apple?

The company is smacking of greed and squeezing the last dollar these days with all these moves like a forced 30% cut of services and now this, which can damage the ecosystem.

>No, cue the you're assuming you won't get Xcode 4 with Lion rabble.

That makes it even worse, Apple can't be making more than $5 million from this.

No, the reason that people are pissed is because they want to be pissed.

There's no real reason to rage about this, other than a self-created illusion that the only thing stopping some hypothetical FOSS developer somewhere in Romania from creating the next Apache is the inability to pay Apple 5 dollars.

Right, because no one should be worried when Apple makes overtures towards monetizing what has been traditionally the only working compiler tool chain for OSX. Thanks, I guess I was just over-reacting. :P

It's amusing how any time Apple does something like this the apologists come out of the woodwork falling over each other to defend them.

Believe me, Apple has given me plenty of reason to be angry at them before (I've been a victim of their arbitrary App Store rejections). I'm just saying we should all keep a little perspective on this particular issue.

I think it sounds little sharp here BUT I have to admit I paid several bucks to save me from headaches at work. I bought software which made me a lot more productive and it sometimes cost me more than 60 bucks AND I'm really using those software at work not at home cause I don't need them at home.

It's just better business to make the price $0. $5 doesn't seem expensive. It just seems... odd.

Bingo. It throws an obstacle (however small) in front of one of your most important assets, a huge developer community, for minimal gain. It would be one thing if Apple, rightly or wrongly, decided that developers had to be commit to a $XXX/yr developer program. It's another to just say that developers on the current version of tools have to throw in some trivial amount given that seems to affect tire kicking levels more than revenues.

This comes up every single time Apple charges for something small, but it's most likely due to Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Maybe the parent is willing but will every undergrad with only a passing interest in running or developing open source software be willing?

Here's my problem with it: I have code in GCC and they want to sell my code back to me.

I could be wrong, but it sounds like the developer program is free for universities, and xcode is supposed to come free with that.


Before anyone says "but this doesn't give you the OS X SDKs!", it's fairly easy for me to get them from the company's iOS developer account. If that's different for this program, I'd be absolutely stunned.

There's multiple ways around this, everybody just feels like bitching about $5.

Just so you know, Apple's linker is at least occasionally open source, both ld_classic (from "cctools") and ld64. You can compile your own copies and redistribute those.

This is somewhat strange pricing - it seems ridiculously cheap if they're trying to make significant profits off of it, but pricey enough to prevent tinkerers who don't really know about coding but feel like trying it from getting a start in xcode.

According to the LLVM lead dev (Chris Lattner on IRC), this is due to Apple's accountant's interpretation of SOX (Xcode 4 is too different from Xcode 3 to be considered an update, they see it as a new product):

> it is due to some bizarro accounting rule. xcode4 is sufficiently new that it doesn't count as a free update or something. paid adc members should get free access. yeah, clearly we're trying to monetize it... doh

Same story as with FaceTime except worse. Apple's accountants seem very very weird.

Here is the Wikipedia article on SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) for anyone that needs a refresher:


It's SOX that's "weird", to put it mildly. I don't blame Apple for being paranoid about it.

Which part of SOX requires this?

I am not an Accountant and this isn't really an answer, but I will try to explain. Basically, it has to do with how you recognize money that you were paid. If I buy a MacBook for $999 and it comes with Xcode 3, and two years later, I get free major upgrades to the software, then the $999 I paid can't be recognized as revenue in the first year. It has to be spread out over the period of time that I will get free upgrades. If they charge me something for the upgrade, then they recongnize the $999 in year one, and the $4.99 two years later.

If this is all Apple is doing, expect Xcode 4 to be included in Lion. If it's not, they are simply charging for it now.

When you see token $.99 charges for things that should be free, this is the reason Apple does it. It's how they interpret the rules -- and, they are probably right. Since, there is no maintenance yearly charge, they can't keep delivering value to you for the initial price without spreading that money over the lifetime of the value delivery.

The great thing about Sarbanes-Oxley is that it is large enough to get away with blaming everything on it. Oh, you can say, my accounting team says Sarbanes-Oxley requires this 40% markup. Then if anybody actually calls you on it, you can refer them to their lawyer, who will charge them $15,000 to research the question. Since they can't read it either, they'll give you a maybe.

The real amusement to the law degrees, I'm sure, is that Sarbanes-Oxley doesn't really do anything and it's just a scare word, like Communism.


All kidding aside, just look at that lead-in on Wikipedia. I needed a shot at the end of that, and that's not even a section. I'm curious why this would be the case myself, and I'm still looking, a couple hours later. On a Wednesday night.

If this is true then I wonder if buying a new Mac or a boxed copy of Mac OS entitles one to XCode 4 and all updates until XCode 5 (which will be years away)?

That is certainly the case with Facetime and the 802.11n update.

I'm guessing it'll be Lion doing that, as with Facetime. And depending on the release time of Xcode 5 (and its synchronicity with OSX 10.8 or 10.9) and whatnot, Xcode 5 may very well be as "free" as 2.0 and 3.0 were.

Yes, the more I think about it the less sense it makes. Putting it on the App Store seems perfectly normal, but charging money for something that used to be free, even a token amount, is a really stupid thing to do.

$5 is nearly as bad as $50: the difference between charging nothing and something is way higher than the difference between charging something and something higher.

Is it to defray hosting costs for a 4 gig app on the App Store? Then why host it for free before on their site?

The cynic in me thinks that it's $10 this year, $15 the next, and pretty soon Apple will be doing what Microsoft used to do. If so, it's a real shame.

I remember when I first switched to OS X as a student. The free developer tools were very impressive to me. I remember telling people "See, this is how it should be done. You shouldn't charge people to develop for your operating system. More applications for your system only helps you sell!"

I'm sure the free developer tools were also a factor in Microsoft offering a free version of VS. Now, it seems, as Apple is becoming more and more popular, they are moving more and more in the direction that MS did in their hay day.

It appears that a once fairly open system is becoming slowly more and more closed. I sincerely hope that the cynic in me is wrong.

Except that the price of their other software (iWork, Aperture, OSX) has even falling dramatically.

My opinion is that it's just another "hidden fee" for OS X development. (A fee I'm happy to pay, for what it's worth.)

For me, I actually had to get a Mac before I could even think about writing my first iPhone app. Then I found out my 10.5 Mac Mini wasn't compatible with XCode, so I had to fork over a bit to pick up Leopard. Then comes the $100 or whatever for a developer license so you can build on phone.

After all that, $5 doesn't sound so bad.

Seems the conditioning they put you through worked well. In fact seen in that light, the new fee makes sense. They just want to dull your resistance against paying through the nose.

I had to pay zero for Python and Java and Perl development (a fee I've been happy to pay, for what it's worth).

I actually had to get a computer before writing my first apps, but I could get whatever computer I liked. I never had one that was incompatible with these tools. Then came the $0 for a Python/Java/Perl developer license, so I could build on any server I liked.

After all that, $5 plus hooking myself up to Apple's death by a thousand cuts slow drip sounds pretty bad.

It is the difference between free and not free.

They are trying to drive developers to use the App Store? Sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth.

They are trying to kill off OSX hobbyist experimentation in favor of iOS? I think I'm getting warmer.

Is this supposed to be satire?

Being a hobbyist and learning to program in the 80s meant my dad shelling out hundreds of dollars for THINK Lightspeed Pascal, and yet, somehow I and many others managed to learn to program and become hobbyists and finally professional programmers.

They'll sell you a full-featured, modern IDE with all the pro features uncrippled for a measly $5. That's not a death blow to hobbyists, that's maybe one of the cheapest hobbies on the planet.

It was free, so I don't how you can call it anything but erecting a barrier to entry to developing POSIX apps on the Mac. You don't just need $5, you need a credit card number.

Like many other things in computing, the price to play has gotten steadily cheaper over time. When it gets more expensive we should ask why.

It makes sense for Apple's future of curated computing, but it's definitely another dick move.

> When it gets more expensive we should ask why.

They just plowed thousands of engineering man-hours into significantly overhauling both the infrastructure (huge amount of work around LLVM) and interface of Xcode for the Xcode 4 release, addressing a substantive number of long-standing complaints along the way. This release is by far the biggest overhaul of the product in the last decade. All of those engineers cost a lot of money. They aren't working on this out of charity. That's why.

I simply do not understand why people are hung up on an IDE that is the product of thousands of engineering man-hours costing as much as a single foot long sandwich slapped together by a bored teenager in 60 seconds.

A single footlong sandwich may be a significant sum for people not in Western, industrialized countries. But that point is secondary to the fact that even $5 is a barrier for beginners.

I think people are objecting because they themselves happened into programming as a passion and career - I know I did. They found some tool, probably for free (QBASIC for me) that got their feet wet initially, and that's how they got their start. A beginner who is neither sure nor convinced that programming is a good thing to pursue is unlikely to spend even a footlong's worth of money on it, and we've lost yet more potential future engineers.

Also, the fact that Apple has poured a significant investment into building these tools says nothing - they've been pouring a significant investment into their dev tools for years and offered it for free. Their competitors have also poured enormous sums into dev tools that are available for free. When the status quo of the industry is free tools (and the few that are for-pay are getting cheaper every year), one can question why Apple is the odd man out in a sudden reversal.

> A beginner who is neither sure nor convinced that programming is a good thing to pursue is unlikely to spend even a footlong's worth of money on it, and we've lost yet more potential future engineers.

Sure. And Xcode would probably scare them off anyways, because it's decidedly not set up to be friendly to beginners. This is a non-issue. Beginning programmers on the Mac should under no circumstances go grab Xcode unless they want to feel utterly bewildered.

The $5 charge is utterly beside the point, here. One wonders how you imagine anyone ever gets into a hobby with more than a $5 barrier to entry.

> Also, the fact that Apple has poured a significant investment into building these tools says nothing - they've been pouring a significant investment into their dev tools for years and offered it for free.

They seem to have drastically increased the amount of effort they're putting into it, probably because of the increased iOS dev audience. That extra effort probably justifies the minor $5 price increase.

> Their competitors have also poured enormous sums into dev tools that are available for free.

Which competitors would those be? Microsoft isn't giving their professional tools away for free, just a drastically cut down starter edition. Sun plowed a ton of cash into NetBeans, but following their financial lead seems ill-advised.

> with all the pro features uncrippled

Do you mean Eclipse, NetBeans or any other modern, professional IDE is crippled?

This is a death blow to Apple hobbyists who live in parts of the world that don't have access to the Mac App Store.

All three of them, most probably.

Had in mind Visual Studio Express (heavily crippled vs the purchased editions), the commercial Ada and Lisp IDEs whose free versions have onerous limitations, etc. There's a lot out there beyond the java IDEs.

And before we hold a eulogy for the vast swaths of poor put upon hobbyist devs who can't raise $5 or access the App store, you might want to establish the existence of these people actually having these problems rather than asking us to be outraged at a scenario in your imagination.

Neither Eclipse nor NetBeans can be called Java IDEs more than Emacs can be called a Lisp IDE. I develop in Python under Eclipse and I prefer Eclipse for general Java development. I prefer NetBeans for JavaME stuff and I absolutely love Emacs for Python, but there are things that Eclipse + Pydev do better (specially App Engine stuff). For what I know, the support for Roby and Rails in NetBeans is also very good.

Of course, Emacs is my Lisp (Clojure) IDE of choice.

As for the idiotic pricing of Xcode 4, I am bothered not by the price tag and the restrictions it imposes on some, but by the fact Apple's accountants interpret SOX in unique and singularly stupid ways.

python IDE's/text editor/whatevers: komodo Edit (the full $300 version) works very nicely for perl/python/ruby (never tried tcl), if you get somebody to buy if for you (no BizSpark that i can see).

I have't tried the intelliJ IDEA series (pyCharm, phpStorm, etc) but based on the scala plugin, I betcha they're quite solid as well.


XCode Pricing: kinda like pinboard.in at $9.26, just enough to deter somebody from buying, for whatever reason.

You do realize it is hard to find a list of IDEs to compete in favorable terms with the free (as in speech) ones, don't you?

There is a reason why Eclipse, NetBeans, Emacs, Eric and so many others compare favorably, if not blow their competition out of the water: it's because some of the developers who use them give back and improve them.

So you can afford a $1500 Macbook for your hobby but not $5 for XCode?

Maybe they're trying to set the precedent that you can charge money for utilities in the app store.

Apple are really driving me to put Linux on both my machines.

I'm not happy about that, but it's seems ever more likely since Linux is getting a lot more usable and the Apple tax is getting a lot more expensive.

Maybe they want to create an incentive for developers to release their software at a low price on the App Store instead of making it free? Transform the freeware into low priced apps on which they get a share.

That's actually a very interesting thought, and quite plausible. Though I'd expect them to charge more for XCode if they wanted to spur thoughts of "I need to recoup these costs" properly.

It's probably an incentive to get people to become paid developer members. You already need to be enrolled to submit apps to the Mac and iOS app stores.

If you just need a compiler, install the development tools on the OS X install DVD that came with your computer. If you want to be doing software development for Mac or iOS, the developer fee is worth it for the documentation and prerelease software.

It's not about the money; it's about getting your credit card number hooked up to to an Apple account.

It's probably a part of a longer term pricing strategy. It's hard to start charging "real" money (even $40/$50) for an application you were formerly giving away for free. People feel like you've taken something away. By charging a micro-payment disposable price of $5 (Happy Meal, Latte, etc.) they deflect a lot of that criticism and avoid some of the negative publicity. Over the next 10 years they can slowly raise the price, each time keeping is reasonable.

Apple's leveraging the work they put into building the App Store infrastructure (and business deals with credit card companies) to do something a lot of other companies couldn't (make something that was free cost something again without too much fallout).

I can understand how the cost of a Happy Meal might deter someone who wants to try their hand at coding.

I mean seriously, you're going to spend at least 10 times that amount on programming books, or thousands of times that amount on college classes.

There are vast numbers of young people out there that either don't have $5 or have no way to pay for something online even if they had the money.

The potential pool of software developers isn't (and shouldn't be) limited to the US and Europe.

Kids in places where the App Store doesn't reach still can buy Macs from channels other than Apple, they can buy and borrow books and teach each other. They can't download Xcode 4 unless they have an account with Apple, a valid credit card (issued in the right country) or a couple of iTunes gift cards.

This is a step in the wrong direction.

The entire thing is built on open source. I certainly won't be paying and this shift in culture at apple is turning me off. I probably won't be buying another product from them for a while.

Built on open source... an important part of which they invested in (LLVM). One can as well easily install LLVM/clang via MacPorts, or wait until Lion (under the assumption that XCode will still be included on the download media).

Getting the proprietary parts for five dollars is certainly not a bad deal. But one has to wonder... why? Is it to cover download costs?

Open source that Apple had contributed very heavily to. Do you feel the same way about Canonical etc.?

The whole IDE portion isn't open source, just the compilers. Thats like saying IntelliJ shouldn't charge for their IDE because the java compiler is free.

It all adds up. As you say, there are a zillion of things you need. Not the least a Mac (>= 1000 bucks).

If all you want is to learn programming, there are free alternatives to XCode.

How much have you spent on iPhone apps so far? I have friends who spent several hundred €, one Happy Meal at a time.

It's required that you buy a new Mac? That's news. I thought you could pick one up used on Craigslist for a few hundred bucks.

Oh wait, you can.

Would you say these Craigslist Macs are a good deal? I just found a 500€ plastic MacBook. I don't think that is a good deal.

In any case, you need a Mac, and it's gonna cost you.

Some pirated software and cracking patches rely on gdb. So a user has to have xcode installed in order for the cracks to work. At least, it's often a requirement.

This might be to make that harder and to thwart software piracy up to a point.

But what's keeping them from pirating Xcode?

And GBD/clang/gcc are all open source technologies.

Probably the requirement of trying pirate a 50MB app is a 4.2GB crack.

Cracked software is pre-patched. Otherwise, they just distribute keys, and use the software unmodified. Xcode and gdb aren't a factor in piracy.

Well, I'll just paste instructions from a crack a friend of mine needed me to help him with:

Install Instructions for Protools 9

• 0. Make sure you have gdb installed. Test by typing “gdb test” into terminal.

1. Uninstall any versions of Pro Tools that are already installed

2. Install Pro Tools, Complete Production Tookit 2 and HEAT (in the optional installers folder) from the full iso

3. Use the [K]‘ed installer to overwrite the necessary files

4. Launch Pro Tools from the loader and everything should work as expected

This crack requires Xcode to be installed. Xcode can be downloaded for free from developer.apple.com. Also, DO NOT REPLACE THE LOADER. The loader included with the new release (loader version 1.1) was designed for this release as a background process which is what people wanted. It also now breaks on ptrace so there is no need for the anti-ptrace extension posted later in the topic. To use Pro Tools launch the loader and wait a few seconds. Nothing will show while it does some work in the background and then it will launch the main Pro Tools app a few seconds later. Big thanks to unsanity, simblism, and XVX for their respective contributions.

Cracking software often (not always) require GDB, but running cracked software doesn't require anything but the .app

If there are any younger hackers out who don't have any other way of purchasing this and can't (or don't want to) ask their parents, email me at sqs at cs dot stanford dot edu with your HN username and a link to something you're working on, and I'll gift it to you.

It sounds like you might have to first verify your Mac App Store account, though, and if you have no CC, that requires you to email Apple (I just Googled around, and that's what some sites said). So, you'll have to do that first. Just search for "mac app store gift card no credit card" and you'll see what's up.

With this and the huge margins apple are already taking over the developers' revenue I really feel like we as developers are getting less and less respect from Apple.

I really think that what made OSX great was the fact that Xcode was completely free. We are the ones that make a platform a great one because of the app ecosystem that comes with it.

Putting prices -- however small they are -- on these dev tools put a barrier on the accessibility of the platform as a application dev environment.

I'm honestly really happy to have focussed my efforts towards web based apps instead... If its the future of computing -- iOS apps, and on device apps instead of web based -- it sure doesn't look so bright.

What got me into programming in the first place was that XCode was free. I just don't get why you'd charge this small an amount for something that you have to buy a thousand dollar computer from them to run it on. It's hard to see this as anything but a tiny little insult.

I guess your comparison between the Xcode price and the one of the apple computer on which it runs is legitimate.

The problem here is not the cost of the package in itself -- it is indeed cheap in comparison to the aforementioned computer -- but in the fact that apple chose not to include this cost _in_ the retail price of OSX.

All the bruden is dropped on the devs who then needs to re-sell their apps, generally on the app-store where they are taken another cut.

Apple's strategy seems to give the maximum to the user, while charging the devs that then charge the users. They lock-in their user base, letting the devs deal with prices increases on both sides.

Come on. Let's not assume too much here. If what is said is correct, that this pricing is because of the accounting rules, then the cost of OS X 10.5 and 10.6 includes XCode 3. XCode 4 will be included in the cost of OS X 10.7.

Once the old free Xcode 3 has vanished, this neatly puts an end to stuff like Homebrew or MacPorts. I really don't care about paying the $4, but for many people without credit cards or unwilling to use iTunes/the app store, OSX just has become a lot less useful.

Fortunately Homebrew and MacPorts can just ship a gcc and get on with things.

You can compile, but you can't link with the standard GNU toolchain to get a usable library (at least last I heard), because binutils simply doesn't support the Mach-O format (see http://gcc.gnu.org/ml/gcc/2009-09/msg00121.html).

I believe Apple's version of binutils is cctools, which is at http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/cctools/cctools-782/ . It includes ld and as. As you mention, the standard GNU source for binutils won't build, as it doesn't understand Mach-O, but MacPorts would seem to be free to use cctools for linking/assembling.

If this turns into a "real issue", such that XCode 3 was rescinded and XCode 4 remained paid only - as opposed to some stupid accounting problem which might mean it would be bundled free with Lion, with XC3 hanging around for (Snow) Leopard - then I suspect we'll soon see MacPorts or their kin come up with a downloadable toolchain based on this existing Apple open source work that would allow them to continue virtually unchanged.

While it's not really useful for regular building, it seems like Joe Damato has made some progress on getting some of the binutils code working.


Their linker is open source: http://www.opensource.apple.com/source/ld64/

Why do they even need to compile on your system? They should be shipping binaries for 99.99999% of the users out there and an easy way to recompile for that last gentoo holdout ^W^WHPC system.

I haven't seen any indication that they won't continue to include XCode in the install DVD that comes with every Mac.

But what about updates? Now handled by the mac app store, for apps bought by the mac app store. And the iPhone SDK may or may not be distributed with the mac, which may be out of date from the current iOS.

Why would it put an end to macports? And why would that be neat?

OS X without Xcode installed doesn't have a compiler - if you can't compile, you can't use macports or homebrew.

It would be "neat" as in clean. No drama on Apple's behalf. Just put a price tag on the only real compiler, and it's over. Unless someone solves that issue.

Xcode is an IDE, you can still get the compilers as both of them are open source.



It's packaging and bundling that's the problem. There is enough people out there that don't want to have to manually install compilers etc versus just installing Xcode.

Well then they have a choice. Pay $5 for the convenience of installing gcc/clang via a 4 GB download, or install gcc/clang manually for free.

Uh...OSX just uses gcc as a C compiler and all the Apple specific changes are open source as well (GPL license and all that), so what's stopping me from just distributing a binary (Apple patched) gcc?

Nothing. You should do it.

You can buy an iTunes card at most pharmacies.

That doesn't address the part about those of us who don't want to use the App Store on our macs... we like them how they are.

I love my mac, I have since OS X was mature enough to be useful, and I've converted tons of people, and I have lots of credit cards.. it's not about the money - Apple is seriously making me think about ditching them.

I understand the sentiment, but it's just a method of distribution for the SDK. XCode 4 doesn't keep you from distributing your apps any way you'd like.

Isn't this like saying that you'd really like the new version of the dev environment on CD because you don't like DVDs? I doubt anyone would be complaining if it was 2003 and Apple was charging a $5 shipping and handling charge to ship you a DVD.

(in the US)

(and Canada)

Certainly none in Brazil

(Germany, UK, Ireland, …)

Apple seems to be adopting an attitude that "you stand to make more with us than without" towards developers and I suppose this makes them feel entitled to tax us. The amount of money they will make out of this will be peanuts, far less than they will need to spend in marketing to developers to keep them off new and rising platforms. As a professional developer, the price doesn't bother me, just the attitude. When I decided whether to try iOS or Android first, the decision was a close one. Things like how they treat the developer community actually mattered.

Apple: you stand to make more with us than without us. Your dollars spend the same as the ones from Android's marketplaces. Be careful when you tread on free. Free makes us friends, pals, maybe even lovers. When I have to pull out the wallet, I stop to ask myself "how much is this relationship worth to me?" Give me XCode and I'll come help you move a couch one day, sell me XCode and you go on a balance sheet where the most cost-effective option wins.

I'm surprised this made it to the number 1 spot on the front page. From the Hacker News Guidelines:

  You can make up a new title if you want, but if you put
  gratuitous editorial spin on it, the editors may rewrite it.
Xcode 4 is available as a free download for Mac and iOS developers with a paid membership [1], just like the versions before it. Those who aren't paying members of ADC can get Xcode 4 via the Mac App Store, paying $5 to offset the bandwidth costs for the 4.24 GB download -- an option that didn't exist before. I'm also willing to bet that the new version of Xcode will be included on new Mac OS X install/restore disks, as Apple has always done.

[1] http://developer.apple.com/xcode/index.php

(The comment was edited, as others have noted that they can't download from the ADC site with a free ADC account.)

No. The free membership does not allow you to download Xcode 4 for free - for that you need the US$99/year membership. You can download Xcode 4 through the Mac App Store, if you live in one of the countries served by the store, have a valid credit card issued in a country served by the store or have gift cards.

I have an account in the Brazilian store since the day it opened. In order to download (free, mind you) podcasts directly from the iPod, I needed an account in the US store paid for with gift cards.

I also don't see the spin as it represents accurately the cost of Xcode 4 - US$ 5 if you download it (assuming you can) and US$ 99 if bundled with other services.

I logged in with my free! account and it told me I had to join either the iOS ($99/year) or Mac ($99/year) developer program to get Xcode for free. Otherwise I should head to the Mac App Store. Am I missing something?

You are incorrect.. If you are a member of their Developer Program you can download it for free. I am not and this is the message I get:

You must be an iOS or Mac Developer Program member to download Xcode 4 or you can purchase Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store.

> Xcode 4 is available for free download [1], just like the versions before it. For those who don't want to go through the fuss of registering (for free!) as an Apple developer, they can buy Xcode 4 via the Mac App Store.

Alas, this is incorrect. Try to log in with a free developer account and it will tell you to go buy it on the AppStore you dirty hippie.

I am currently paying 18 cents per GB outgoing from Rackspace Cloud. I bet Apple is paying less. Assuming they pay the same, that's 76 cents.

$5 is not offsetting costs.

Presumably it will cover all the point releases, which typically happen after a new product release.

It will also cover every machine authorized with your Mac's app store account.

I have 3 boxes. If we assume 5 point releases before the next paid upgrade, that's 63 gigs transferred. At your rate, that's $11.34.

Wait...so it's only $5 in the app store? Are they just trying to cover the costs of 4+GB of bandwidth?

I don't know what's worse: Making Xcode cost $5, or offering an app for $5 in the app store and free for download.

However, I know that the first thing I'm going to do when I get home is come back here and click that link before they revoke that link.

If you have a Apple developer account then you can download it for free. If you have a free account (so you can submit bug reports, and downloaded the old Xcode 3.x) then you can not download Xcode 4.x.

Note, Xcode 3 is still available for download from connect.apple.com or by following the link on the Xcode 4 websites on developer.apple.com, http://imgur.com/8LHXW was updated on Monday!

It's not going anywhere. Just get a torrent.

>paying $5 to offset the bandwidth costs for the 4.24 GB download

That is ridiculous. Netflix would be making a loss just on the bandwidth if you stream more than 10 movies/month on the $8.99 plan.

And it's not as if Apple's hurting for money, they're rolling around in tens of billions in cash, max this will make them is about $20 million bucks.

Xcode 3 appears to still be a free download. Xcode 4 is free if you're a registered developer (which costs $99/year), or $5 from the app store.

gcc is obviously still free, if you get it from anyone other than Apple.

The question in my mind is what they will do with Xcode for OSX Lion. I don't use Xcode itself, but I always install it to get the tools and libraries I need to compile other software.

If Lion requires users to pay $5 to get the necessary dependencies to build other free software tools, this will be a step back from the status quo.

Xcode has normally shipped with OS X install DVDs (though a lot of folks download it anyway, as this gets you the latest version). I'm wondering if they'll ship it with Lion. I'm guessing that they will not.

I bet they will, just like they're shipping Facetime with Lion.

It would offer a bit of an incentive for anyone thinking of upgrading to Lion. Why not throw in the IDE? I'm just not sure that they will.

They did with all previous versions of Xcode, I don't see why they'd stop now.

not shipped with mac book airs

In my experience, Apple's gcc is still the recommended version.

Hopefully solid non-apple gcc packages come out. I don't like the idea of paying $5 to apple to develop generic unix applications on OS X.

Oh, I'm sure they will. The only reason Apple's gcc is still the recommended version is that nobody cared enough before to make an alternative one. Now that saving five bucks is involved, people will move mountains to make it happen. :)

Apples GCC is available for free, or llvm/clang. The $5 is for the IDE. And this is for the preview only so far, as far as I can tell.

Apple's gcc isn't available from Apple in an installable form outside of XCode, though. Their version on opensource.apple.com is just the source, so somebody else would have to host a binary. Definitely doable, but will be a change from the current practice, which is to expect users to have an Apple-supplied compiler binary.

They are not available for free because they come bundled with US$ 5 worth of IDE and cannot be separated.

Yes they are, see my other post. _delirium has a point though, but I'm sure it will be solved somehow. Hopefully from here.


Not to mention that a compiler won't do you much good without a linker. MingW and GNU platform systems like most Linux distributions use ld from binutils, but that doesn't support Mach-O so is useless on OS X.

Support for this theory can be seen in the pattern of past Xcode major releases: to date, they've been released included w/ a new version of OS X and have not run on any previous version of OS X, while minor updates have been available for free.

ETA: Also does anyone seriously think that the $4.99 is going to remotely even slightly come anywhere within a few orders of magnitude of paying for the development costs? I mean, really?

Then why not US$ 0.99?

Possible theory: Cost of bandwidth for downloading 4.2GB is > .99? Honestly, I have no idea, though.

Amazon S3 transfer costs are (worst case) $0.14/GB, or < $0.60 for 4.2GB. Apple certainly pays a lot less than that per bit.

Is Apple a cash strapped startup or what? They easily get a lot of value via hardware sales from apps being made for their platforms to start worrying about bandwidth costs.

Imagine if all OS X and iOS apps disappeared today? How many would still buy Apple hardware?

It's not just the initial download, but the multi-GB updates that are shipped out every few months. I swear I've downloaded 100GB of XCode related material in the last two years.

$0.99 is too cheap to convince a regulator that it's the true value of the software?

Seriously, whatever magic their accountants may have to do to make a free add-on to an OS they sell remain free, it's worth to reduce the friction for new OSX developers.

Remember what Visual Basic did for Windows: it killed DOS development in a couple months. Having a very simple IDE any corporate drone can use to make good-looking applications would drive a lot of acceptance for Mac in medium businesses.

I think that magic may be "upgrade to Lion".

I love how half the comments here run along the lines of "Apple is evil because they're charging $5 for this piece of software" and the other half are "Apple is evil because they're giving this away for $5 to suck people into the iOS/OSX ecosystem."

Gotta pick, guys.

How about: $5 is essentially free for something that is a major piece of software. It's a venti latte at SBUX. It's not going to represent a real obstacle to anyone actually interested in learning to code for the OS (any more than a $25 O'Reilly book would probably be, or $10 used one) and it's also not going to keep anyone locked in because they spent a bunch on the tool.

(If $5 is not an inconsequential amount of money for someone, then yes, they should go use Linux and gcc / java / whatever. Or maybe they should concentrate one making a few bucks mowing lawns or something, assuming they're in the developed world.)

I think this whole complaining about $5 thing really reeks of a sense of entitlement. Either use Xcode 3 (which is free and works perfectly well), or find some way to save up 5 bucks (or 10 bucks if you need to go get a Visa gift card).

Actually, Xcode has cost a minimum of $700 for a while now (cost of a Mac Mini).

I'm ok with a 0.7% price increase (if I wasn't a registered developer, that is).

Unless you're on a Hackintosh

Well then spend a few bucks out of the hundreds of dollars you saved on hardware.

But only if you have an account at Apple's store.

Nobody is.

I develop iOS apps on a hackintosh. It's of equivalent spec of a recent Mac Pro, apart from it's an i7 instead of a Xeon.

As do I. It is my main work computer. It cost me $1200 for parts, and an equivalent Mac would be ~ $4000

Could you share some more info on the hackintoah. The amount of info I have read about hardware compatibility fickleness and dsmos security code has terrified me.

I recently put together a Hackintosh, and it went much more smoothly than anticipated. Just get any Intel processor, and make sure your motherboard and graphics card, or a closely related model, are on one of the recent OSx86 hardware compatibility lists[1]. Then, just follow TonyMacx86's install guide[2]. Post-install, you'll probably want to install a few additional kexts (for example, the sleep-enabler kext). If one of the kexts causes your box to kernel panic on boot, then just boot off of the install DVD again, and use the Terminal (under the "Utilities" menu) to remove the kext(s) in question. If you get stuck, use your google-fu–there's a pretty healthy hackintosh community, so chances are somebody else has encountered the same problem as you.

[1] http://wiki.osx86project.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page [2] http://tonymacx86.blogspot.com/2010/04/iboot-multibeast-inst...

It doesn't run on used Apple hardware?

Ok, so the oldest/cheapest hardware that Xcode 4 will run on is the 2006 Intel Core Solo Mac Mini, which is going for around $300 on eBay.

I'm guessing that this is a regulatory compliance thing :/

I'm with you. When you give software away instead of charging for it, while simultaneously making your money off an associated product, you are required to do all sorts of backflips over how you account for revenue.

This is why certain updates for the iPod Touch cost money while they are free for iPhones: It is entirely driven by how Apple writes up iPod Touch vs. iPhone revenue.

Except that's not true anymore:

"Apple has for the first time made this full iOS upgrade free to all of its iPod touch customers, rather than charging the customary $10 fee that provoked groans in the past."


This leads me to believe that the whole accounting rules canard was just a way to make more money. Why did they start charging for XCode? Because you'll pay it.

I wouldn't be so quick to call it an accounting rules canard, there was a ton of analysis of the rule when the iPod Touch upgrade fee was first announced and there was very little doubt this was the case. And while I can be critical of Apple policies, I stop well short of suggesting that they would lie about an accounting rule. That's the kind of thing that gets people sent to jail, and certainly Microsoft would have held a press conference the next day explaining that Apple was lying.

That being said, they haven't said that the XCode charge is a subscription accounting thing, so there's certainly no logical reason why you may not be correct in saying that they are charging for XCode because they can. I'm guessing otherwise, but this is armchair speculation.

UPDATE: I was wrong about subscription-based accounting affecting how Apple accounts for expenses. Here's a link I found:


So said accounting rule changed then? Honest question. And in any case, if that were really true, why not charge a penny? Or the download cost? I don't buy it.

> So said accounting rule changed then?

Or Apple's accountants changed. They seem to be very strange people, and I say that in a bad way.

> And in any case, if that were really true, why not charge a penny? Or the download cost? I don't buy it.

If they think they need to charge for Xcode 4, they probably think amounts under that would be seen as non-compliant. Facetime was $.99 and shipped with new macs.

Maybe iOS 4 doesn't offer new functionality? Where functionality is defined as "whatever the law says we have to charge people for"?

The law is not particularly concerned with whether the major version number or the minor version number changed. It's all about what features changed.

Citation? Sorry, doesn't ring true.


Apple reports iPhone revenues over a 24 month period, this is called subscription accounting. Since an iPhone is sold as a subscription, Apple can write off services associated with providing that subscription on an ongoing basis, i.e. give all upgrades away for free.


iPod Touch and Mac revenues do not use subscription accounting, therefore Apple is not allowed to give away major OS upgrades for these products, it must treat upgrades as separate products that make or lose money for themselves. Apple is not allowed to give away a major iPod Touch upgrade and apply the costs of writing the upgrade to its iPod Touch business.

I am certain of the rules around subscription accounting and its effect on requiring Apple to charge for iPod Touch and Mac OS upgrades (and Apple is happy to charge for OS X upgrades any ways).

Whether the $4.99 for XCode is a byproduct of these rules is conjecture. I think so, but I've looked all over and I can find neither my Apple Employee badge nor my Chartered Accountant diploma, so it's more than fair to doubt me on this.

p.s. Another clue to the reasons for the charge is contained in the fact that XCode is still free for ADC developers. Since ADC revenue is subscription-based, Apple can give away whatever it wants to ADC subscribers.

Thanks for the reply. I stand corrected.

This is probably due to Apple's interpretation of tax laws or at least that tends to be what comes out when Apple charges a token amount for something.

I dual boot Ubuntu/OSX 10.5 on my macbook pro, I once tried to switch from Ubuntu to OS X 10.5 for Ruby development.

First I found out Homebrew and macports needed Xcode. I downloaded the 3GB+ monster that is Xcode. Ran the installer, only to find out my OS is outdated. I need to upgrade to 10.6 which costs $30. Checked online to find links to older Xcode versions but the only link available was the most recent Xcode version which doesn't work on 10.5.

And I'm not even a Mac developer, I'm just trying to install Ruby. I tried to install Xcode from my OS X CD, but I really couldn't find it. I installed the utilities pack and it turns out Xcode wasn't there. I got fed up with Apple and switched back to Ubuntu.

I honestly think Apple is driving hackers away from their platform. I don't like the idea of paying for something I don't need. My OSX 10.5 works great, I don't need to upgrade. Why won't Apple put a download link to older Xcode versions and let the OSX upgrade and Xcode 4 sell on their own merits.

I know the link to Xcode 3.2 is still up but it doesn't work on OSX 10.5

$5 is super cheap and affordable.

My time isn't though.

And I'll waste a lot of it now because I'll have to hunt out a corporate credit card and/or fill out an expense claim to install it on the (company owned) macs we use at work for dev.

$5 may as well be $1000 dollars for the effort I'll have to go through to get it now.

And all so I can get GCC installed so I can use homebrew to build the open source libs I need for doing web / backend dev.

Hoping Apple releases a "lite" version that contains the bare minimum needed to do that without all the extra IDE fluff I never use.

For the convenience of being able to download Xcode through the mac store and get the updates automatically, I'll gladly pay $4.99.

Automatic updates should be obvious standard feature, not a premium.

I don't like paying Apple for solving problem they've created themselves by putting download behind pointless registration and releasing minor updates as 4GB bundle of everything.

Don't worry, updates will still be 4GB bundles of everything, last time I updated iTunes to 10.2.1 Apple still hadn't found out about bsdiff.

I would pay $5 just for a diff-patch-update instead of "download 5GB again because of new iOS-version".

That is the same problem Ubuntu has, a minor update, download entires packages.

For a diff to work you need to store the original packages, and this will take so much precious disk(for SSD drives on macbooks air) and add complexity.

While I agree it's still quite cheap, I wonder why Apple suddenly decided to start charging almost nothing for something that used to be free.

I don't see the price tag having any impact in the iOS/OSX software ecosystem, so, why are they bothering to charge for it?

One guess would be that they didn't want a 3gb app constantly being downloaded by people who wouldn't use it for more than 30 seconds. I realize bandwidth is incredibly cheap, but we are always hearing talking of Apple trying to offset costs, maybe this factored into the thinking?

Seems like a reasonable guess. However, considering how large the update downloads are for even minor upgrades of Apple software I always assumed Steve secretly owned stock in a CDN.

Steve (Apple) did... in Akamai.


It was at one point worth about 2 billion dollars, but I'm guessing it all got washed out after the dot-com bust because word of it was never mentioned again. :-)

Anyways, they aren't doing this because of CDN costs, it's negligible -- they are Akamai's largest customer and are also building their own network as well.

Makes sense. Perhaps that's why OSX is the only modern Unix (sorry AIX, HP-UX) that has no package management system... ;-)

I am quite sure the number of Mac users who download Xcode is negligible compared to the number of Mac users who download movies from that very same CDN. And the size of Xcode is comparable to HD movies.

You think that Apple are the ones who want to lower the bandwidth? I'm the one who had to download 3.8GB for a whole IDE and development kit when all I wanted was gcc and a linker. If they cared about bandwidth more than making programmers download their own tools, they'd have made the command-line tools their own separate install.

So make it download by torrent transparently like (IIRC) Starcraft.

"I don't see the price tag having any impact in the iOS/OSX software ecosystem, so, why are they bothering to charge for it?"

My guess is that the price is low as a way to introduce people to the idea of paying at all. The small price precludes an outcry. Once everyone is used to paying, they can slowly increase the price over time.

If they started by charging $50 or $100 or more, I suspect there would have been a huge outcry. But I also suspect the price will get to that point sooner or later.

Also, now that the platform has been strongly established, Apple can charge a price for the development tools without fear that developers will abandon them.

They want to shove the Mac App Store in developers' faces.

It's still free, for registered Apple developers who pay the $99 a year.

If you are really into developing for Apple, $99/year is not that bad. Still, the free-as-in-beer Xcode attracted those curious with the platform. Don't forget those who can't set up a store account (Brazil was on this list until not that long ago) will not be able to even try it.

It's certainly a lot cheaper than ~$3000 /year (MSDN?), or ~$4000 /year (IBM?) or ~$3600 /year (Lispworks?).

In the grand scheme of things, Apple's tools and developer membership schemes are fairly generous. It's still making a big step from free to non-free as others have already said. I'm not going to rush to upgrade.

Xcode 3 is still available for free download.

Though I really don't think it's a good idea to make Xcode 4 non-free.

Updates have always been automatic through Software Update. I have never manually downloaded an update for Xcode.

I have been a staunch Apple supporter for years, but lately their anti-hacker stance has become more and more obvious. If you aren't making them money through their store, then fuck off. This token charge for Xcode isn't for profit; it's a message to a certain group saying "You aren't wanted here anymore."

In over 2 years I've never once seen Xcode update through Software Update - is there a secret setting somewhere to enable it? I'm ready to plunk down the $4.99 just to get the automatic update in the App store. Thanks!

I'm pretty sure it does. I'll use this as a reference:


You're right. Xcode 3 doesn't update automatically.

Debian has been doing nice updates and upgrades over the network for 15 years. It's not that difficult.

I would want automatic updates too, but only if they didn't break every existing SDK on your machine. This is currently not the case, so thanks, but no thanks.

Agreed. You don't need to value your time very highly for this to be an excellent value proposition. Apple's developer site is an absolute nightmare to use, hopefully this means I'll never need to figure it out again.

I'm not sure if this applies to Xcode, but at least with Coda, even if you purchase it outside the App Store, it has an 'Installed' label and presumably gets updated through the App Store as well.

The app store can detect I'd apps are installed (through their bundle identifiers) to prevent you from accidentally buying them twice, but it will not update apps that haven't been downloaded through the store.

I believe that was considered a bug in the App store.

Is there a free option for those who don't mind downloading it outside the app store?

Xcode 3. You can grab it from http://developer.apple.com/

I do wonder: for how long will Xcode 3 remain available on Apple's site? I also wonder what they may attempt to do to effectively break Xcode 3, or make it where Xcode 4 is necessary for future development? I wouldn't put it past them.

I think we are going to see Xcode 4 bundled with Lion, at that point it will become available to everyone at developer.apple.com, and that the current Xcode 4 stuff is based upon Tax laws just like it was before with the iOS updates.

Let's rage about things that haven't happened yet.

IIRC, you can download earlier versions of Xcode for earlier releases of OSX.

What? You would not only pay for that convenience, but pay, per app?

Linux distros could have been making money for a decade now.


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