Apple: Drag Your Macs In And Piggyback Our WiFi To Download Lion

Apple: Drag Your Macs In And Piggyback Our WiFi To Download Lion

If you go to the Apple Store in July, you might just see something like this as people piggyback Apple's WiFi to download Lion.


With Lion’s release in July, Apple will switch over to a digital distribution of OS X through the Mac App Store. What if you’re one of the many Americans still on a modem, though? Or what if your broadband connection is slow? What if you are one of the increasing number of broadband users with a download cap? How will you install the 4GB OS X update?

Apple’s got a suggestion: bring your Mac on into the Apple Store and piggy back our free WiFi. Something tells me they might regret that.

Apple Store reps told Computer World that while the Genius Bar technicians aren’t about to install OS X Lion for you, you can always bring in your Mac, plug into the store’s WiFi connection and download the update yourself.

Anyone else see anarchy ensuing here if anyone actually follows this advice? While there’s a comical image in my head of an army of Mac owners dragging their Mac Pros and iMacs into the store and scrounging around for outlets, even people bringing in their MacBooks and hovering around for a couple hours while the update installs could lead to some frantic congestion problems. This seems like an Improv Everywhere skit just waiting to happen.

  • dagamer34

    This is going to still be impractical because of the amount of WiFi traffic in such a small area, you’re going to have interference and dropouts. They really should setup a wired connection, as 4GB of data transferred at at an average of 50MB/sec would take a little over a minute and a half. Compare that to ideal 802.11n WiFi conditions which is around 8MB/sec and that’s 10 minutes at least per computer.

    I also assume that there’s some caching going on in the store so that it’s not directly grabbing Lion from the Internet but local LAN instead through some trickery.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Hmmm. Get everyone to go to the same Apple store at the same time, to protest the lack of a physical disc. 
    Apple should have at least offered it for people who need it, either no internet connection or they wiped the hard drive. 

  • Michael

    I think I’ll just stay at home. My nearest Apple store is only 10 minutes away, so 10 minutes getting there, 20 minutes downloading it (but it could probably be a lot more with so many people), and 10 minutes back makes 40 minutes.
    Downloads for me are roughly 2 Megabytes per second, so it would only take me about 35 minutes to download it.

  • Adam

    I’ll stay at home thanks, download caps have never appeared to be an issue here in the UK [=

  • iBilly

    This could be an interesting flashmob event… 50-60 people show up with their iMacs to be updated all at once.

  • Geof Abruzzi

    Most likely the people in areas where they are stuck on modems because no broadband is available, are going to be the same people that are far from an apple store. FYI, I live 230 miles from the nearest Apple store.

  • Fearless_fred

    Are they serious?!? Can you imagine someone having to lug their 27″ iMac down to their “local” Apple Store to download Lion? Just think what a marketing win this would be for others like Microsoft or Ubuntu. I can jst hear the Advertising copy now…. “Why pay over the odds for a machine that you have to bring back to the store when you want to upgrade it? Use our system, you can get it delivered to your door.” From a marketing standpoint, it’ll be a bonanza for Apples’ competition. Plus, I’d hazzard that those with worse internet connections are probably those who are further away from Apple stores, so another -ve. To use the vernacular here in the UK: “Do what? You’re ‘avin’ a larf!”

    At the momnet, I’m seeing no reason to upgrade from Snow Leopard, and significant concerns if I do. As someone who has had the HDD completely die on both his MacBook and iMac, leading me to have to install new drives and use physical media in order to be able to get a TimeMachine restore done, Apple have yet to convince me that they have given any consideration to their customers around the world by apparently* removing the option to buy a physical copy of Lion.

    *I say “apparently” as we won’t really know for certain what they finally launch until after Lion has been out for a few months and all the kinks are ironed out.

  • Gaston

    120 Mbit connection <3

  • An Apple Fanboy

    This is the most idiotic thing i’ve ever heard, and that also from Apple, sigh. Why can’t they just offer oldskool upgrade dvds and keep life simple. 

  • Jordan Clay

    A 3.5 hr drive to get an upgrade and set there for 2 hours with a 3.5 hr drive back seems a little excessive for computer software…and I would even consider myself a fanboy.

  • Js0636

    It takes 3 days to download a 1gb file with my connection… I live in the most rural area ever. The nearest Apple Store is 450 km (279 miles) away. Luckily I am visiting family this July and they have internet that ranges from 15-20 mbps… so it shouldnt take too long there. :D

  • NewMex

    3 iMacs, 150 mile round trip, bandwidth caps = no Lion?

  • Kimberly

    That is an unusually poorly thought-out scheme for Apple. Was there a problem with the usb key  solution they have for MBA?

  • Lynn Norris

    Silence… I kill you! 0.0

  • CharliK

    It is highly unlikely that that many folks are really without another option. Such as a friend’s house, school, starbucks etc. New computers will likely come with it installed or they will do it right then during that ‘personal setup’. And many stores already have tons of folks hanging out anyway and do just fine.

  • Mike Rathjen

    A couple of my friends are Apple haters. Usually I can defend and even promote Apple pretty well. But this particular move with Lion is indefensible. It really does make Apple look outright stupid.

  • Tom McGrath

    Could they not just offer an option to buy it on a USB pen via the Apple Online Store? They probably wouldn’t need loads, as I imagine most people will have the right connection these days. Not a problem for me though, as I’ve got generally good Wi-Fi. Correction, not a problem for me, because I don’t have a Mac.

  • Gabo77

    Same here in Canada :)

  • Gabo77

    Same here in Canada :)

  • Aj Tk427

    Better yet, setup download stations.  Bring in a USB key, pay for it and then have a server in back dishing out copies.
    I like that Apple is trying new things.  I think it’s a step in a better direction, however I think they still should have provided the option to buy it on a USB key to be shipped in minimal packaging, since as people have said, digital distribution does not work in a lot of areas.

  • Greg_in_Dallas

    I see a black market of flash drive delivered OS forming quickly.

  • Twistedsynopsis

    haha! Jeff Dunham!

  • Dan

    Err, Power?!

    Where will people be plugging in their Mac Pro’s, iMac’s and Mac Mini’s?

    For the Mac Pro and Mac Mini owners, Do they need to bring their monitors too or will Apply allow them to piggy back the stores 27″ Cinema displays also?

  • David Rutan

    They better be caching locally or the store’s public network is going to slow to a crawl on a daily basis from this mess.

  • David Rutan

    They must be planning to cache the file somehow…. their network is fast but not that fast!

    Speaking about the digital distribution method in particular:
    I’m upgrading systems to snow leopard several times a week via a USB SSD drive and it takes a while even with the physical media in hand, much less a 4GB download for each person…..
    The 10.6.7 several hundred meg updates are bad enough to try to get customers updated to over their internet connection.. at least with those I can save the file and run it from the SSD on anyone’s system. Thinking back, over 50% of my customers would have a terribly long download for 10.7, in the neighborhood of over 2 days.

    I’m concerned that my downloaded lion image/bootable volume will give trouble installing to all these systems even after the customer purchases it on their own Apple ID, then uses my bootable volume to install instead of waiting the several hours to several days to download. Guess I’ll find out soon enough…

  • in_design7

    When apple Design it’s products they design them as if all the people are living the US forget that some people are living in the middle east like me for example , and the gov slowed down the internet connection in order to prevent the protests videos from leaking and Mac appstore is blocked in my country and the internet speed is 12kbps , it ill be nearly impossible for me to get lion

  • Jeroen Gunning

    Amazing to see that 4GB would be a problem. I mean what’s 4GB?  

  • TylerHoj

    When I was living in the country and our internet was dead slow I would have been on hands and knees thanking Steve Jobs with every being of my inner soul. Now that I live in the city, I CANNOT WAIT for any and everything Wifi, the more Wifi devices I have, the happier I am. I’m pumped for this install of Lion and I’m very happy Apple is offering this because had Lion come out a couple years ago when I didn’t have my own insanely fast Wifi, I’d be that guy in the corner hissing at Apple employees telling me to buy something or buzz off. Awesome article, great job! 

  • TylerHoj

    If you are one of the unlucky few that has to go into the Apple store to download Lion. I suggest you go early, and steal the bean bag chairs from the kids learning area. SCORE! 

  • zenbike

    I think we should definitely all do exactly that. It might encourage Apple to rethink the idea of completely relying on the Mac App store for all Apple software purchases. Personally, I have no intention of purchasing any software from Apple on that system. It is too reliant on an eco-system which I may not have access to when I need it.

    I also think they are working entirely too hard to make sure everything I do on my computer or phone passes through their servers.  

    This is the first time they’ve introduced these things as mandatory, rather than optional. It’s also the first time I’ve ever considered trading in my Mac Book Pro for a Windows machine in years. Although I’m sure there are a few people on this site who will think that goes too far. 

  • Geof Abruzzi

    “Can you imagine someone having to lug their 27″ iMac down to their “local” Apple Store to download Lion?”

    Even worse, How about my Mac Pro with 24″ Cinema Display, the octopus cable/brick the Cinema Display uses, two power cables, a power strip, a mouse and a keyboard.  

    Apple!  Make the Hard version an optional purchase for $50 instead of $30.  I would take the CD/USB version in a heartbeat, even if I had to pay a premium.

  • Dave

    On the bright side, you’ll be in the store when the upgrade goes sideways so you can get some help.

  • jeffrey hendricks jr

    I’ll just click download and then go to bed…in the morning it’ll be ready to go…

  • Luke

    There are many outlets under the display tables….probably not enough however.

  • Buzz

    I want a physical copy of Lion.  I don’t really care how Apple makes that happen.  Too much has gone wrong around here over the 27 years I’ve owned Macs for me to feel comfortable with Lion prowling around in some cloud somewhere and not right here where I want it, when I want it.

  • Beast_m

    u know, u dont HAVE to install Lion
    plus when it first comes out its always filled with bugs,
    so u might as well wait

  • Guest

    okay, so they want me to travel like 50 miles to the nearest apple store, to upload lion on by 27 inch iMac, when I could have bought a copy off line and get it sent to me?

    no thankyou.  I’m not risking getting my $2000 iMac damaged (driving) so I could just have an OS update.  I’ll just wait till the CD comes out. 

  • imajoebob

    Wow.  Apple rep makes an offhand remark and a Computer World writer thinks it’s official company policy.  What a shock.  And then the fanboys light the internet on fire.  Another surprise.

    BTW, way back in 2003 when I bought a PowerBook Ti, the first thing it told me was I needed to upgrade the OS, and it was a 2.7GB download.  I had dial-up (33kps), so I called Apple and they suggested I go to the Apple Store and see if the Genius Bar had the download on DVD to borrow.  The register clerk suggested I just sit down and do the updated on their network.  This is one of the oldest “fixes” Apple has.

    This was also my first lesson in networking a Mac -
    Apple: Go to system preferences, network, airport, automatic. 
    Me: Then what? 
    Apple: Download it.

  • Thomas Edward Mrak

    For most of Apple’s life as a company, they have been pushing the way we use a computer. From taking the computer from a device which only hobbyists and pHDs to could use, to something that “just works”, Apple has innovated and taken risks in the way most companies do not.

    They were one of the first to drop several proprietary ports for USB, and one of the first to encourage people to shy away from floppy disks. Bold moves which were upsetting to some, but necessary.

    At the very least, if you still needed access to these older technologies, an enterprising 3rd party would help you fulfill your needs.

    The lack of an alternative to an app store upgrade is my main concern for those who may not have reliable/fast enough Internet access, especially since Apple is the only distributor of OSX.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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