Is Apple getting ready to charge for 802.11n Mac enabling software?

Is Apple getting ready to charge for 802.11n Mac enabling software?

Summary: Apple is planning to allow owners of Macs equipped with 802.11n WiFi adaptors to take advantage of this new technology - but rumors are circulating that Apple will charge for this update.

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TOPICS: Apple
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Apple is planning to allow owners of Macs equipped with 802.11n WiFi adaptors to take advantage of this new technology - but rumors are circulating that Apple will charge for this update.

According to the website MacFixIt Apple plans to charge $4.99 [Updated: Jan 19, 2007 @ 3.15 am Actually, it's $1.99] for the update. 

Which Macs can take advantage of this update?  Here's the current 802.11n-enabled lineup:

  • iMac powered by Intel Core 2 Duo (not including the 17-inch, 1.83GHz iMac)
  • MacBook powered by Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Mac Pro using the AirPort Extreme card
  • MacBook Pro powered by Intel Core 2 Duo

Apple will also offer the enabler software for 802.11n-compatible AirPort Extreme Base stations too.

Why charge a fee?  Well, the current thinking is that a fee is required because of accounting regulations relating to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  I don't know enough about accounting to comment on this but it sounds like an odd explanation to me (but then again, knowing the intricate, confusing nature of big business accounting, I wouldn't be surprised ...). 

Question.  Would you pay $4.99 to have 802.11n enabled on your Mac?  Is this going to herald in an era of charging for updates?  Is this a path Microsoft could go down?

[poll id=67]

Topic: Apple

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18 comments
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  • Typical Apple

    There are 2 pathetic things about this:
    1. This is a blatant money grab.
    2. The Mac zealots will praise it as being a wonderful thing.
    NonZealot
    • How will Zealots like this? [Heres where the real post should go]

      I'm a Mac Zealot. And I don't like this.
      It seems a little over the top... like iPod games costing money, and only being able to get them from Apple. That's also over the top.
      Usually, I'm all for Apple's plans, but this is a little strange... almost Microsoftish.

      (By the way, ignore my other post.)
      slayr-cxf509
  • bundled with leopard upgrade?

    Too bad, that is odd. When will it be included in new systems?

    Hopefully this will be bundled with the Mac OS X Leopard upgrade.

    I suspect this update may be slightly risky (firmware update failure anyone?) or they expect other support issues and the small fee is to discourage those who don't really need it.
    impala_sc
  • sometimes I don't get Apple

    My 3 year old laptop has no problem working with 802.11n with connection speed of 5 to 11mbps (still faster than dial up) at a range of about 400 feet and thats going through 2 walls

    Apple always claims easy compatibility with everything but when I tried to connect an older canon scanner to my mothers iMac it would not work and there was no software support for it at the Canon site although there was support for my PC (at least I got my self a nice little flat bed scanner now)

    No matter how much I want to love Apple they always fall shy of my expectations
    RomanGalleon
    • Don't blame Apple for Canon's lack of support

      It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to create drivers for their equipment. That said, I still think Apple is foolish to try to squeeze out the extra nickel this way.
      orangemike
      • I do blame Apple and here is why

        [i]It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to create drivers for their equipment.[/i]

        http://www.apple.com/getamac/drivers.html

        Apple [b]specifically[/b] states: [i]No hunting for drivers.[/i]

        Apple is lying. MS doesn't claim that you will never have to hunt for a driver with Windows because, as you so correctly pointed out, it is up to the manufacturers to make drivers for their equipment. Microsoft is honest and upfront about this. Apple [b]lies[/b] by making you think that you can just plug anything in and it will work. This is a [b]lie[/b].

        Again, from that same site:
        [i]You should simply be able to connect that camera, printer, gamepad, camcorder, or phone to your computer and use it. That?s certainly the experience you?ll enjoy on a Mac. Millions do now. And you can join them.[/i]

        Well, it appears that this [b]isn't[/b] the experience you'll enjoy on a Mac. Instead, you'll enjoy watching your Windows friend use the scanner you just gave him because it wouldn't work on your Mac. If Apple didn't lie about these things in their advertisement, you would have had a point but Apple sets the expectation that [b]Apple[/b] will provide drivers for [b]every[/b] peripheral out there and then, as the previous poster stated: [i]No matter how much I want to love Apple they always fall shy of my expectations[/i]
        NonZealot
        • read the whole Apple page -- not lying

          [i]http://www.apple.com/getamac/drivers.html

          Apple specifically states: No hunting for drivers.

          Apple is lying. MS doesn't claim that you will never have to hunt for a driver with
          Windows because, as you so correctly pointed out, it is up to the manufacturers to
          make drivers for their equipment. Microsoft is honest and upfront about this.
          Apple lies by making you think that you can just plug anything in and it will work.
          This is a lie.[/i]

          Actually in the case of the scanner or in any case, Apple is NOT lying, if you read
          the whole page. The page referenced above admits that there are rare cases
          where they do not provide a driver and explains to you how to get one (if it
          exists). They allow for that case and hence are not lying.

          Also, though this doesn't really matter, Apple did not list scanners amongst the
          peripherals you can connect seamlessly.
          chadpengar
          • ahhh

            so they are lying about the interoperability with everything and anything you can connect to them instead??

            so glad i dont own a crappy mac!
            usrhlp
          • re: ahhh

            ????

            The Mac blows doors on your PC, windows or linux (I use them all). Don't know what
            you are referring to. Apple is not lying about anything on the page previously cited.
            chadpengar
  • How will Zealots like this?

    I'm a Mac Zealot. And I don't like this.
    It seems a little over the top... like iPod games costing money, and only being able to get them from Apple. That's also over the top.
    Usually, I'm all for Apple's plans, but this is a little strange... almost Microsoftish.
    slayr-cxf509
  • I don't beleive that... Microsoft is not that gready

    I now own an Apple MacBook, I've been a wintel user for close to 20 years and paying to get a driver and/or firmware upgrade unbelievable...
    jifbrodeur
    • On the contrary, it's exactly the kind of thing I'd expect from Redmond!

      I don't like it, and I'm a pretty solid Mac zealot. I think it's foolish in the extreme.
      orangemike
      • i agree

        it is just the type of thing microsoft would make you do, that is why you have had to purchase every single windows update that microsoft has released for your OS!

        idiot.
        usrhlp
  • $4.99 software

    First I've heard of it, and not a bad idea. I hate the idea of
    buying software to "unlock" a feature that should be free,
    but this may be a rather interesting new way to distribute
    software with micropayments. 4.99 isn't really micro, but
    you get the idea. This could be the next big thing in
    software distro, if true (a big if).
    MacWizard
  • Understand what is happening folks.

    This is very much an accounting issue and if they didn't charge for it they would
    have to restate previous results since they are not supposed to recognize revenue
    until the complete product is delivered. This update is unlocking a new HW that
    was not part of the original sale (they did not claim this was 802.11n compatible
    when you bought the machine) so in the accountants and auditors eyes, it was as
    if Apple decided to send you a new piece of HW. Which would make the original
    sale incomplete until this occurs, which affects revenue recognition.

    Here is what I wrote elsewhere in a mail list:

    Basically, some of the MacBook and MacBook Pro computers out there have a
    wireless chip that also supports 802.11n. The computer was not advertised as
    being "n" capable. GAAP seems to require that revenue not be booked until the
    complete product is delivered -- otherwise you just book part at delivery and the
    rest at finally delivery. If they release an update that now enables this "n"
    capability, people who care about such things would consider the initial delivery to
    customer as an incomplete delivery since the final product was not delivered, just
    a partial, with this update providing a final delivery of the completed product. So
    they would have to restate their accounting from when they initially sold all these
    macbooks to only recognize about 1/2 the revenue then and the rest now when
    someone downloads the SW to enable "n" wireless, as now the product delivery
    would be complete.

    Accounting wise, it is the same as they sell you the macbook and then later on,
    after you get it, decide all macbooks will have an external keyboard included in
    the box and send them to all previous purchasers as well. In accounting eyes it is
    the same thing. It is not merely a SW update, but it is giving you new HW that you
    didn't have (access) to before.

    By charging for it, it is an upgrade and has its own revenue, so they don't have to
    dick around with their previous quarters revenue recognition and scare the market
    by restating results and scaring people.

    That is the basic gist of the thing. There may be minor errors in my description
    on a low level accounting basis as IANAA but that is more or less what the issue is.
    Apple is not making money on this. I would expect that they figured out the
    $1.99 is a ball park figure that they figured out would cover their admin, sales
    overhead, transmission data download costs, etc. from this whole thing.
    chadpengar
  • It is their interpretation of SOX

    Unfortunately I had to take plenty of accounting courses in college and
    there are enough gray areas to believe that this is how they feel it
    should be handled.

    They're handling it in a way they believe will satisfy the auditors and will
    cover the costs of managing the software delivery.
    merlin747
  • what the...........

    If a computer comes with a piece of hardware than the software it comes with should allow you to use it. Like buying a pc with a modem that will not work until you pay more for the drivers. It sounds a little rediculous.
    czerrlaut
  • Apple might HAVE to charge

    Apple may have to charge due to SOX regulations around revenue recognition. They have sold Mac's over the last two years, the revenue for which has been recognised within Apple. Apple cannot offer this upgrade for free because they have to have a small charge to justify the work etc and because a free upgrade would go against SOX - otherwise Apple would have had to wait until the upgrade has been issued before recognising the revenue for each system sold - i.e. up to two years down the line, which many businesses couldn't tollerate. Apple would have the money in the bank but wouldn't be allowed to say they had it on their accounts. It's the usual SOX accounting regulations gone bonkers!
    That's my take on why Apple are considering charging for this.....
    tristanwoods