Apple intentionally crippled Bluetooth in iPod touch 2G, wants $10 to unlock it!

Apple intentionally crippled Bluetooth in iPod touch 2G, wants $10 to unlock it!

Summary: As a rule, I think that Apple employs some very smart people. But every so often the company does something that just pushes the boundaries of milking their customers too far.

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As a rule, I think that Apple employs some very smart people. But every so often the company does something that just pushes the boundaries of milking their customers too far.

Take the revelation yesterday at Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 preview event, where is emerged that the next software update to come down the pipes will activate Bluetooth in iPod touch 2G devices ... that is, for a fee of $10 (OK, for the pedantic out there, the charge will be $9.99).

Bluetooth on the iPod touch 2G has been the source for countless rumors since the device was released. Teardowns showed a Broadcom Bluetooth chipset which has support for 2.1+EDR, but Apple's spec sheet made no mention of the feature. While Apple fanboys chose to believe that Apple wouldn't lock out functionality deliberately, and that there must be some other reason for the inclusion of the chipset, others came to the conclusion that something fishy was going on. Yesterday Apple's Greg Joswiak confirmed that Bluetooth was present on the iPod touch 2G and that the next $10 upgrade would activate it for users.

Now, I don't begrudge any company charging for things, but Apple does seem to go to some crazy lengths to milk customers. The issue isn't that Bluetooth wasn't on the spec sheet in the first place, it's that everyone's who has bought an iPod touch has already paid for the hardware, and is now having to pay again to unlock hardware that they've already paid for. Apple pulled exactly the same stunt with 802.11n WiFi on some MacBook and MacBook Pro systems at the beginning of 2007. Apple's chant (along with that of their army of fans) will be that there has to be a charge because it's a new feature, and accepted accounting principles demand that there be a charge. But how about an acknowledgment of the fact that consumers have already paid for the hardware?

And another thing ... if Apple has to charge for new features, how come all iPods sold from the point at which this new OS is released with have Bluetooth enabled AND cost the same (if not less) than they did before the Bluetooth update? The only people having to pay to for Bluetooth are the suckers who already forked out for the iPod touch.

Before anyone accuses me of taking a pop at Apple here, I should say that I get worked up whenever any company pulls this kind of stunt. It's reassuring that very few companies do actually charge for updates (as i said earlier, Apple charged for activation of 802.11n on some notebooks, and Creative pulled a similar trick with EAX support on Vista) but as things get tighter this could be a slippery slope where we've paying $10 here and there for updates on a regular basis. These charges could mount up and I think that companies who adopt this revenue stream should be upfront about likely future charges so that consumers can factor that into their purchasing plans.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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243 comments
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  • Don't they have to charge for Tax reasons? Or something like that. [nt]

    [nt]
    olePigeon
    • Yes.

      It's called Sarbanes-Oxley and was passed by Congress in 2002 as a
      response to Enron. Another nice side-effect is that it modified the
      accounting rules for future value, making a whole bunch of subprime
      mortgages suddenly worthless.
      frgough
      • wait a minute

        I can understand that if they enable the technology [b]now[/b], that they'd have to charge a fee. But certainly they could have enabled it from the begining without charging an additional fee.

        Apple coming back now and saying that they "have to" charge a fee to enable it, doesn't really make it right. JMO
        Badgered
        • Sigh

          But they aren't charging you $10 for activating that one function. They are charging you $10 for a whole new software upgrade that include many new functions. If you really cared about that one function why did you buy it in the first place?
          oncall
          • sigh

            I didn't buy one. Just pointing out that it "looks" fishy. Hey, maybe they're completely on the up and up... but doing that sort of thing sure gives a bad impression.
            Badgered
          • Might want to go back and read SOX

            I asked the question of a couple of finance
            folks and their response was "what?!"

            I have had several of my phones upgrade OS (WM5
            to WM6 as an example) and PDA's do the same.
            And yes, the OS upgrade enabled new features...
            So how is Apple different?



            rhonin
          • I think the difference is clear...

            ...See, we all have seen Apple's game. We know what they do (or try to do) to people who unlock their hardware, and what they would most likely do if some developer were to write some patch or other code to add Bluetooth functionality to the 2.0 version of the OS.

            When you say that an OS upgrade added "new features", was that to say that it suddenly supported and exploited previously installed hardware which was laying dormant in the device?

            I think the point is that Apple could probably offer a free download which adds this one repair to their 2G version of the OS, but they saw an opportunity to "add value" to their OS upgrade.
            ReadWryt (error)
          • Because . . .

            The Mac Fans are looking for ANY reason to believe that Apple isn't a Money-grubbing Corporation like MS . . .
            JLHenry
          • Ask them again...

            ...about non-subscription based accounting.
            Look it up if you don't understand it. Apple
            doesn't have to charge a fee in all cases,
            there options are as follows:

            1. Use subscription based accounting (like the
            iPhone) and account for the profits on units
            sold over a period of time. Notice how iPhone
            users don't have to pay a fee for this software
            update. However, companies generally don't due
            this unless they absolutely have to because the
            end up with a significant amount of deferred
            revenue which in and of itself has consequences
            (beyond the scope of this discussion).

            2. Use non-subscription based accounting, then
            after the release of new functionality, go back
            and restate your earnings for each device when
            it was sold (not very popular with investors).

            3. Use non-subscription based accounting and
            charge a modest fee with the update.

            Obviously, option #3 is the easiest approach.
            techconc
          • I just posted a long response...

            about this below, but you said it a lot better and more succinctly than I
            did.

            Thanks.
            msalzberg
          • Apple did not have to cripple ....

            ... the feature in the first place. Just like they didn't have to cripple 802.11n. You Apple apologists are pathetic. Why can't you see that Apple is just ripping people off?
            ShadeTree
      • Yes, In other words don't consider yourself RICH because of your house.

        I have many other reasons to consider myself so...and most of that goes to RUIN Microsoft. Mark me....Mark me well....Microsoft will go down because they DON'T BELIEVE IN THEIR OWN WAREZ...they only believe in making money (which I have) BY taking it from others (WHICH THEY WON'T GET FROM ME OR THOSE I EVANGELIZE TO!).
        No More Microsoft Software Ever!
        • Re: No More Microsoft Software Ever!

          And what does anything you just stated have to do with the article. Why don't you just shut the hell up you pompous ass.

          And, this is yet another reason I don't buy iSnobs. @ No More Microsoft Software Ever! Software updates are free on Microsoft. I have never seen them charge for one.
          puffmanxx
          • Well said, my good man. Well said indeed.

            nt
            Hallowed are the Ori
          • While I agree with your first paragraph...

            The update is an OS update from 2.xx to 3.xx. So, yes Microsoft do
            charge for OS updates. I assume Windows 7 won't be free, and that said,
            it will certainly cost more than $10.

            As for the article, I agree. The chip should have been enabled in the
            earlier OS's. But, to counter that, it would have been worse if a Bluetooth
            chip wasn't in the original handsets and only made available in the next
            revision. $10 for a new OS though, not too bad me thinks.
            A Grain of Salt
          • That's the reason ....

            That's the reason they are charging the $10 (US), because you accept it. It's the sweet spot where consumers say, "Well it's only ten bucks, what the hell". Now, to get an idea of the windfall to Apple, multiply that $10 by the number of 2G's. Then you get an idea of why they are doing it.

            Yes, I know ALL customers won't pay for it, but probably a large number. They're doing it because they can, and the customer allows it to happen. If many of the owners just refused to fork over the $10, then they might not take advantage (IMHO) in the future. But since you and many more like you are willing to pay the $10 it will just reinforce this type of behavior from Apple.

            Kind of like the Bailouts.... If the companies can't all fail, since the Gov. decided it needs to bail them out, what is to keep them from taking the hugh risks they took in the past? Answer: Regulation.
            rkendsley
          • You cannot be serious!

            Windows XP SP2 was a much bigger update and that was free.

            By my reckoning, if they put the hardware in there, they should give updates for it for free. Certainly a patch should be made available to allow access to the Bluetooth hardware and let 3rd parties use that feature.

            Sounds like a money-grab to me.
            khawaja.umar.farooq@...
          • Please read...

            all of the posts before joining into a 3 day old conversation.

            There are accounting rules that must be followed.

            Microsoft is using the same accounting method for Windows XP as Apple
            is for the iPhone. This allows them to add updates for free.

            Look for my post titled "From Microsoft" where I post the relevant
            statement and the link.
            msalzberg
          • The SOX excuse is pathetic as ....

            ... is those who buy into it. They put the bluetooth chip in the original hardware and somehow inadvertantly left the driver out. Why??/ Not because the driver wasn't ready. It had been shipping in Macs before the release og the iTouch. They did it purely and simply so they could charge you rubes later for that functionality. Not only are they ripping you off they are making you look stupid for defending it. Wake up!
            ShadeTree
          • Yeah ... ?

            I can't wait to get my free Windows 7 upgrade!
            john_gillespie@...