AppleInsider is reporting that Apple plans to charge US$5 for the upgrade to the 802.11n wireless capability that is currently included (but not activated) in the latest Core 2 Duo iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook and MacBook Pro models. The only exception, according to AI, is with the purchase of the new 2007 Airport Extreme (pictured above) which will include the update for free.
Purchasers of the new 802.11n-enabled AirPort Extreme Base Station (US$179) will receive the 802.11n software enabler patch for free according to the report. New York City Apple Specialist Tekserve tells me that the new Airport Extreme hardware is slated to "ship by" 28 February 2007. The Apple online store says only "February."
So why the "n tax" for existing customers? iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz explains that Apple blames the fee on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which "supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature for one of its products." Horwitz goes on:
Another Apple representative has added details on the Sarbanes situation: it’s about accounting. Because of the Act, the company believes that if it sells a product, then later adds a feature to that product, it can be held liable for improper accounting if it recognizes revenue from the product at the time of sale, given that it hasn't finished delivering the product at that point. Ridiculous.