Academic discounts and the Mac App Store

Those of us who are educators and students typically enjoy discounts on Apple merchandise (via the Apple Education Store) and software, depending on the developer. For example, educators/students can get OmniFocus, normally priced at $79.95, for $49.95 from the developer’s website. If you buy OmniFocus through the App Store, however, you’ll pay $79.99.

Could the emergence of the Mac App Store mean the end of such academic discounts? It certainly looks that way, at least if developers decide to sell their applications exclusively through the store. Apparently, there’s no mechanism for charging different prices for the same application in the store. Although developers were given the option to offer academic discounts on volume orders in the store (see screen grab below), they were not also given such options for individual downloads.

Consider the following example. The developer, The Mental Faculty, produces a Mac app that is particularly appealing to students and educators: Mental Case (a flash card application). On the Mental Case web store, the app is priced at $29.99, but it is $19.99 for students and educators. That’s a significant discount. However, the developer states that Mental Case will eventually be sold only on the Mac App Store at a single price point. (Currently they’ve reduced the price for a brief time to allow their customers to migrate to the App Store. But that sale will only last for a week). Once Mental Case is sold exclusively through the App Store, academic discounts will no longer be offered. In fact, the developer states specifically on the website that, “there is no student pricing on the Mac App Store because Apple does not allow it” (see When I emailed the developer, he said that a more accurate statement would be that Apple does not “facilitate” academic pricing via the App Store. However, he also indicated that Mental Case might be offered in two versions, one at the regular price, and one for students (with fewer features) at a discounted price.

Although this sounds like bad news for those who get academic discounts, it’s not all bad. For example, the price for Aperture on the Apple Education Store is currently $179, whereas the price via the Mac App Store is $79. This is obviously a much better deal than the education pricing. And, at least for now, many applications on the Mac App Store are currently priced well below what developers formerly charged (for example Courier was $24.95 and is now $4.99 on the App Store).

Thus, educators and students should expect to pay regular prices on apps they purchase through the Mac App Store, unless they are buying multiple licenses. Whether or not Apple plans to provide developers with a mechanism to offer individual academic discounts remains to be seen, but it seems unlikely. Obviously students and educators still have the option of buying most applications straight from the developers. However, considering how successful sales via the Mac App Store have been this week (see this article on MacAppStorm), more developers might decide to sell their apps exclusively through the App Store. If so, academic pricing may be a thing of the past.

I am a professor at a small liberal arts college in West Texas where I teach Old Testament and Hebrew. I am also a writer. I have a wonderful husband, two amazing kids, two destructive labradors named Calvin and Hobbes,… Full Bio