I would have thought that after the iPhone price cut fiasco, Apple would have gotten a bit savvier on the customer-friendly front, but given the company's decision to charge $20 for the iPod Touch software update, I guess not so much.
In case you missed it (and with my colleague Jason O'Grady live-blogging from the keynote, you really had no excuse to), Steve Jobs announced today at Macworld that from now on, all new iPod touches will ship with five new applications - mail, stocks, notes, weather, and maps - the same apps that are included on iPhones. But, if you already own an iPod Touch, those apps that come free on all new devices will set you back $20.
Now look, just as with the iPhone, there's always some risk to being an early adopter. And if Apple today had announced a new 32GB iPod Touch for the price of an existing 16GB model, I wouldn't have uttered a peep. But come on -- this is a software upgrade that cost the company virtually nothing in R&D (it was already developed for the iPhone), and they're not jacking up the price of the existing iPod Touch models which include the new software.
Hard to tell if this is just continuing short-sightedness, or something more calculated. My colleague Shawn Morton just ran another theory by me, which basically goes like this: Apple is market-testing how much customers are willing to pay to be early-adopters. With the iPhone, clearly a $200 premium was too much. But only time will tell whether or not a $20 early-adopter tax on the iPod Touch is too pricey for consumers to stomach as well.
If Steve has to cough up another mea culpa -- and some $20 refunds -- I think we (and Apple) will have our answer.