Apple has come up with a new strategy and cost saving maneuver for those users who have a capable Mac that can support being upgraded to Leopard.  They’ve introduced the Mac Box Set.  This three part suite includes iLife ’09, iWork ’09, and Leopard 10.5.6.  The price for this little treasure trove is $169 for the single user pack, and $229 for the family pack.  They will be available in ‘Late January’ (read January 30th or 31st).  Probably more like the 30th, since it’s a Tuesday.

If you were to price each of these out separately it would cost you $287 for the single user pack and $397 for the family pack.  So you will be saving a significant amount when you buy the box set.

For those who are on the fence about buying it, it is well worth the cost.  However, it does bring a couple of things to mind since it is 40% off the cost of buying each individually.

How is Apple able to sell the Box Set so cheaply?  The answer is quite simple – they do not make that much, if anything, from the software.  Their entire profits are in the hardware.  The margins on the hardware for the quarter ending in September 2008 were around 34% on hardware.  So, making 34% for hardware alone allows Apple to sell the software cheaper, or even at a loss in order to gain hardware sales.

The second thing that I got to thinking is that they are probably going to do this with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Why some ask?  Well, I’ve thought about this too and this is what I’ve determined.  OS X Snow Leopard isn’t as significant of an upgrade, visually, as 10.5 Leopard was to 10.4 Tiger.  So, in order to sell the upgrade, they’ll need an additional mechanism to generate sales.  This will be one mechanism to do so.

Third thing that got me pondering is whether they are going to offer this type of deal with more of their products.  This one is anybody’s guess.  I’d like to see more deals like this coming from Apple.  The key with any Mac is that it’s not necessarily the hardware that makes the computer super-appealing. It’s the software.  Anybody can make a computer, but software is an art form.

The final thought on this topic, from me anyway, is that bundling the software has to make sense.  In this case it does, since iWork ’09 and iLife ’09 both require OS X 10.5 or higher.  This is because they’re taking advantage of the core animation and core video features that are present in Leopard.

Apple could bundle other software packages together.  I’d like to see Quicktime Pro bundled with iLife right off the bat.  Maybe for a total of $89 for both, allowing a break on the price, even if it is minimal.

Overall, the Mac Box Set is a great deal if you’ve been putting off buying OS X Leopard and upgrades to iWork and iLife.  It’s definitely cheaper than buying all of them separately and Apple has added some cool new features.