back to article Apple sells world's most expensive flash drive

You can now purchase Apple's Mac OS X 10.7, aka Lion, on a flash drive for $69 – and, yes, it's the exact same operating system that's available at the online Mac Store for $29.99. The USB thumb drive is available through Apple's online store, where Apple explains that the $69 lets you install the company's new OS without a …


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  1. hammersmith

    Not even close to the most expensive!

    An Ironkey s200 4gb flash drive costs $149 ;)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Well you know what they say ...

    About a fool and their money?

    Proof positive.

    1. peter 45


      Proof positive that the technically illiterate and those who favour form over function are ripe to be ripped off.

      1. Doug Petrosky 1

        Nothing of the sort

        You have all been abused by the brick and mortar so long you don't understand the cost of physical distribution anymore. The big players artificially hike up digital distribution but Apple is trying to changing all of that. Do you realize the markup most software has at BestBuy, and other distributors? Apple is selling Lion digitally for far less because it make sense to! If you assume $29 is wholesale price for the software alone and say $10 for the flash drive you are looking at a retail markup of about 60%, which is high but not so crazy.

        Note: I just saw the "OEM" price for Windows 7 Pro at $35. Boxed Retail price is $299 but nobody is getting all crazy about the over priced DVD and cardboard box Microsoft ships!

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Nothing of the sort

          "Note: I just saw the "OEM" price for Windows 7 Pro at $35. Boxed Retail price is $299 but nobody is getting all crazy about the over priced DVD and cardboard box Microsoft ships!"

          OEM and Retail are two different licences. You also can't buy OEM as a consumer for much less than about $150.

          1. Rob Dobs

            Not true

            Anyone can be an OEM. Last time I checked you get this from Newegg as long as you bought some new hardware along with it. Literally a $.99 bag of screws qualified.

            Even if you don't want to game M$ (and really doesn't even M$ fans want to stick it to them?), you can still make this a very legit OEM purchase by buying a new HD or Video card, or adding some memory to your PC, any of which can be a reasonable upgrade to consider when upgrading to a new OS.

          2. TJ 2


            OEM === One off installation. Once you register the software, it is bound to your PC by a # Hash checksum of your system components. You cannot transfer this license to another machine.

            Also, this means that if you upgrade the hardware, say CPU or Motherboard, you are also stuffed as the # Hash checksum changes, your license will become invalid.

            Hence this being OEM. e.g. OEM license keys on Dell, HP, Lenovo etc.... The key is hardware locked.

            The OP obviously doesn't know the difference between a Retail box which can be reinstalled as and when you change hardware or upgrade..... and OEM.... Should really educate yourself in such basic matters before speaking out or your rear end.

        2. Arctic fox

          RE "Nothing of the sort" Not *quite* that bad.

          Win 7 Pro is currently available at for $223. Still not exactly cheap of course!

        3. lurker

          @ Doug Petrosky 1

          "you are looking at a retail markup of about 60%, which is high but not so crazy"

          60% absolutely is crazy. And yes, I work in that industry. Any PC hardware retailer charging even 1/3 of that amount of markup would have gone out of business years ago.

          1. Doug Petrosky 1

            Are you talking software or hardware?

            Where did you work? Because $20+ markup on a $70 piece of software is just not out of line.

      2. Lord Zedd


        ....that makes you very technically illiterate.

      3. Giles Jones Gold badge


        People like me who are technically literate but are sick of technical problems after a day of dealing with them (from family members too) and can afford to pay more for an easy life.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      I'm no fool

      ...and that is why I didn't take up Microshaft on their similar offer:

      To "upgrade" my Vista laptop to Windows 7, they wanted £199, and that didn't even include the flashdisk, it was download.

      £55 sounds like quite a bargain to me.

    3. Lord Lien

      @ Craiggy

      There is also no point in being the richest dead person in the graveyard either..... Might as well spend it while you got it.

      Beer Icon, because thats where most of my money goes...

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        @Lord Lien

        Well said!

        Now if you can come round my house and convince my wife of same I would appreciate it, as I would like a new Canon 5D Mk II camera and they are a little pricey!

  3. Carl W

    Is it a 4GB drive?

    I followed the instructions to create a bootable Lion USB drive, but slightly more than 4GB is required which necessitates an 8GB drive.

    I understood this drive also allows you to upgrade Leopard->Lion without buying Snow Leopard, which may explain the price discrepancy.

  4. David Simpson 1

    What are you on ?

    It's illegal to put a disk image you paid for and downloaded on to a USB drive you bought ?!?

    When did this happen ?

    Copying an installer disc and selling it or giving it to friends is illegal but buying your own disc and copying it to a USB drive is not, it's the same fair use principle that allows you to copy CDs to your iPod.

    The funny thing is it's incredibly easy to make a USB installer with a Mac (using Disk Utility) thanks to Intel's EFI, Mac fans really don't have a clue.

    1. Andy Taylor

      Copying CDs is still illegal in the UK

      Although no one will come after you for ripping your own CDs onto your iPod, it is still illegal to do so in the UK without a mechanical copyright licence.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      David, you need to clarify

      I guess you are living in the US?

      IANAL but I think that in the UK, it is indeed unlawful to copy a CD onto your iPod. There is no "Fair use". I think that the law allows for "copies" that are necessarily made to use an item (such as the vibrations of a gramophone needle that are "copies" of the track), but that doesn't extend to format shifting.

      Also some wily lawyer apparently suggested that the "copying" of data from a disk into RAM to do something with it requires a license to copy (even though you might think that it is a necessary copying operation to use what you've bought).

      1. CastorAcer

        The UK copyright law is changing...

        It was announced earlier this month by Vince Cable that new legislation is being introduced to allow copying of media between formats...

    3. Doug Petrosky 1

      Actually we do!

      It is the Windows wonks trying to find something where nothing exists. Apple wants to encourage digital distribution because it is cheaper, so they pass along the costs associated with physical distribution. I wouldn't be surprised if the drive is an 8 GB drive and the OS is $29. Figure $20 for the drive and we are talking about a retail markup of $20 which sounds about right.

      I mentioned it before but Windows 7 retail is $299 but OEM distribution is $35. So lets talk about an expensive disk/cardboard Box!

      Apple encourages people to make their own flash drive for catastrophic disk failure. Apple is not imposing this on anyone. Just making it available as an option for those who want/need it.

      1. Stu_The_Jock

        OEM vs Retail

        The price comparison is NOT simply about media/boxes. The OEM licence is intended for PC builders to preinstall, and assumes that the OEM supplier is providing support, NOT Micro$oft.

        And NO I am NOT suggesting Micro$oft support (Oxymoron?) is worth the difference, but then the retailers, hauliers that deliver, etc etc etc all need to make their cut, and pay tax on that . . .

  5. Donut4000

    As a helpless Apple Fanboi..... can bet your arse I'll not be shelling out for this rip off...

    (Lion kinda sorta fell off the internet and landed on my hard drive while I was hoovering anyways..)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    cheap by Psion standards

    a 128K EPROM for your Psion Organiser II used to cost £100. So this is a step forward.

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Yes, but...

      as long as no one messed with the little sticker, those data will last a long time...

      (I use an Org II to keep track of one of my collections)

      Of course, when it got full, you had to copy the files over to another, then ship the original off to either Psion or a buddy with an EPROM eraser to have it erased.

      They did bring out EEPROM-based DataPaks, later though, and that again was the inspiration for the Series 3 SSDs, which in turn begat PCMCIA flash-disks and so forth...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Quite!

    The USB version allows a restore onto a bare drive which effectively means that it includes a Snow Leopard license. Cost of Snow Leopard is around $29

    $29 + $29 = $58. Apple is really charging just over $10 for the USB key

    The AppStore version of Lion requires that the user already has a copy of Snow Leopard installed

    For those that don't have a previous Snow Leopard this is a relative bargain

  8. John Klos

    It probably contains an entire OS install...

    If this flash drive can install Lion on systems that don't already have Snow Kitty, then it'd be worth it - after all, it'd be just $10 more than the price of buying Snow Leopard and Lion.

    Someone needs to get one to see if that's the case...

  9. Michael 5

    Stop inciting non-sense

    Is it not true that the Flash version of Lion also gives license for upgrades directly from Leopard as opposed to Snow Leopard for the download version?

    Also.. keep in mind that with the physical media... you have packaging and distribution expenses. Although in this case I am sure it does not account for $40 difference.

    Never the less... $69 is not a bad deal for those lacking the needed requirements.

  10. Annihilator

    Oh FFS

    I could almost accept the "no physical product" sales pitch, but to whack it onto a (presumably hard coded, non-reusable) USB key instead of just pressing a DVD is just lunacy, even without the $40 overhead. Even from an environmental viewpoint, surely DVD is better??

    The Snow Leopard retail pack was sensibly tiny (compared to Windows 7's big honkingly awful orange plastic box, say), being a slightly thicker than average cardboard sleeve.

    1. Ilsa Loving

      Why not a DVD?

      Well, if you're upgrading your macbook air then that will be $29+x for the DVD, plus another $70 for a superdrive if you haven't bought one already. While I'm sure most people probably HAVE done just that, or have a second machine that they are using disc sharing with, it's still a series of extra steps you need to perform.

      However, it's obvious that Apple is trying to do away with DVD media in the same way as it did with floppy drives. Whether that's good or bad is debatable, but it's clear that's what they're trying to do.

      Not to mention you get a darling little apple branded usb key that you can wear for a pendant. I can't wait for data-enabled tattoos, that we just wave above our computers to install the software. I know where I'd stick my tattoo, how about you? :D

    2. James O'Shea Silver badge

      you presume incorrectly

      "presumably hard coded, non-reusable" would be a bad guess on your part. Just as with the downloadable version, you can use this one as many times as you wish. (You do have to remember to copy the downloadable version to another volume before using it, as if you leave it where it was downloaded it will delete itself upon finishing the update. However, if you copy it to, say, a USB drive, you can use it as many times as you want to.)

      What you can't do with the downloadable version is install over Leopard. (Well, not without indulging in some gymnastics, anyway) Apparently you can do that with the USB-from-Apple version. As Snow Leopard costs $30, if you have Leopard and want to go to Lion (why you'd want to do that is beyond me, frankly) you'd have to either buy Snow Leopard first and then get Lion, at a total cost of $60 plus the time required to do _two_ updates. This way you spend $70, but only do _one_ update. $10 seems little enough to pay to avoid the hassle.

      1. Annihilator

        @James O'Shea

        By "hard coded, non-reusable", I meant the USB key.

        PS check the system requirements, regardless of whether it's download or USB, the system requirements are "OSX 10.6.6" which is Snow Leopard - you can't (legally) upgrade from Leopard.

        1. James O'Shea Silver badge

          and you _still_ presume incorrectly

          You can reuse the drive if you so desire. Why you'd want to is up to you, but one of the advantages that a thumb drive has over a DVD (or a download) is that you can take it to the local Apple dealer and have said dealer update it to the latest version of the OS. Or you could download the updater yourself and put it onto the drive, as there's plenty of space left over.

          And as for the system requirements... that's because the download version requires the MAS, which became available with 10.6.6. There are three Apple Stores in my vicinity, and the staff there are pushing the USB drives as a way to upgrade from Leopard, without going to Snow Leopard first.

    3. Lord Zedd

      Have you ever booted from a DVD?

      Its EXTREMELY slow. We're talking 1.5MB/s vs 30MB/sec and seek times 150ms vs 0.1ms.

      To boot a Mac from DVD requires 10 minutes where a flash drive takes 30 seconds and install time of 30 minutes vs 2 minutes.

      There is NO advantage to DVD in any way. Its an antique technology.

      1. Rob Dobs

        ever hear of 16x drive

        I have one in my PC that is like 3 years old, burns a full DVD in a few minutes

        Surely you are aware that DVD on SATA can transfer at a minimum 15-30MB/s

        Sure seek times aren't great, but you shouldn't be booting and running from the DVD, you just use it to install.

        And I still find it funny the Appull fanbois trying to defend why its good that handjobs is removing legacy features to save a few pennies. "Oh who needs DVDs, its not like there movies or something you can still use them for....." sheesh

        Even if you ripped all your movies to a multi-TB drive (which asspull, I mean apple would charge like $4000 for BTW) DVD are still very usefull to transfer data from one PC to another.

        I can burn 4GB of pic or vids and share them with friends or family without having to ask for my flash drive back. (and they cost like $.10 a piece now)

        1. Doug Petrosky 1

          DVD may no be dead, but....

          I'm not saying DVD's are useless but with external drives and Flash Drives so cheap (and so much more reliable) I'd never wast my time with one anymore unless I had to leave something behind. I think most people feel the same way.

          Oh, and I have a 2TB drive with my videos that I'll upgrade to 6TB for about $240, although I did consider only going to 4TB and keeping it down to about half that.

          Digital distribution of media just makes sense.

    4. Doug Petrosky 1

      Takes care of all users.

      No reason to believe this is not a re-writeable USB drive, and not all macs have optical drives.

  11. monty75

    Uk price

    An Apple Store genius offered to sell me one of these today for £55.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He might have been the "genius" ...

      But he obviously took you for a complete imbecile.

      If this new "distribution model" isn't a clear example of a total rip-off I don't know what is.

      1. Chad H.

        As opposed to...

        the old disc retail model that MS still pushes... How much do those cost again?

        1. GatesFanbois

          @As opposed to...

          As far as I know Windows service packs are free and available to download.

          Anyway how are you fanbois enjoying your full screen apps? Are they good yeah? Enjoying that advanced functionality are you?

          1. Chad H.

            @ Gates

            This isn't a service pack, and apps have run fullscreen before Lion.

            And if you want to get into the chargIng for service Packs: Windows 98; Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows 7.

  12. Stratman


    Do I detect rounded corners on that drive.....

    1. vic 4

      You certainly do

      Thats probably why it costs so much, that sort of innovative design costs a lot to develop and until someone sells a similar looking one to start a legal process against the only way to make money is to sell stuff.

  13. RegKees

    recovery disk assistent

    well, in all fairness, Apple also provides a free download to create your own recovery thumb drive. (

    You can even use it and a time machine backup to go back to 10.6.8, which, after a good week, is what I did. Lion was supposed to be conjured up specifically for my 11" MacBook Air, but all it did was to require more clicks to achieve the same thing as before and throw up more fancy transitions.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      But I thought all the recovery assistant did was boot enough of the system to re-download the thing again (Hopefully not the same month that the first Lion download used my entire month's bandwidth allowance!)

      A better option for me was to burn a copy of the installer after downloading it.

  14. Weili

    Convenience fee?

    More like penalty fee for still living in the stone age!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    It's not blank!

    Yeah it's not exactly cheap - but then again you can't compare the cost of this to a blank USB stick. You're paying for the OS itself + the distribution/duplication effort + the physical media.

    DVD media costs very little because it's a mass produced copy with an easy method of duplication, this media is much more expensive and you're got the cost of the file copy.

    Still way cheaper than purchasing a Windows upgrade, just saying.

  16. rbryanh

    So. What.

    Oh please…

    I'd made my own by the time Lion was even released and Apple has since provided a free download to help non-geeks make one. Combine that with the fact that the OS costs thirty bucks and only a bitter old woman would complain, in between kicking cats and screaming at the neighbor kids to get off her lawn.

    There's a point at which your insistence on perpetual pique distorts the truth and become truly bad journalism. When was the last time you got laid?

  17. Johan Bastiaansen


    you say flash drive, I say memory stick


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