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Apple to impose 802.11n upgrade fee on Intel Mac owners

post #1 of 206
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Core 2 Duo-based Mac owners who want to unlock next-generation 802.11n wireless technologies hidden inside their computers will first have to fork a few bucks over to Apple, AppleInsider has confirmed.

That's unless they plan to plunk down $179 for the company's forthcoming 802.11n-enabled AirPort Extreme Base Station, with which the unlocking fee (and 802.11n software enabler patch) are reportedly included.

You see, Apple for the last several months has quietly been shipping the majority of its Core 2 Duo systems with inactive support for the draft 802.11n specification, an emerging wireless standard that promises fivefold speed increases over previous-generation 802.11g products.

Apple last week confirmed the move, saying Mac systems currently shipping with hidden 802.11n capabilities included the Core 2 Duo MacBook, Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro, Mac Pro with AirPort Extreme, and the Core 2 Duo iMac (with the exception of the 17-inch 1.83GHz model).

The company said that it plans to offer an "AirPort Extreme 802.11n Enabler 1.0" patch next month when it begins shipping its new AirPort Extreme Base Station, which will activate the technology.

"Most new Mac computers ship with built-in 802.11n wireless support that can be easily enabled with the installation of enabler software included with new AirPort Extreme wireless base station," Apple wrote on its website.

What the company did not say is that Core 2 Duo Mac owners who want to unlock 802.11n capabilities for use with third party wireless solutions will have to pay a small $4.99 fee before downloading the 802.11n enabler patch.

Reasons behind the move -- and such a small obnoxious fee -- are not necessarily clear at the moment. However, iLounge's Jeremy Horwitz is offering an explanation from some Apple representatives present at last week's Macworld Expo.

According to the editor, the fee stems from a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring some onerous accounting measures.

"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 hasnt finished delivering the product at that point," he wrote.

So if you're a Core 2 Duo Mac owner that wants 802.11n without having to purchase a new AirPort Extreme, you may want to hold onto that 5-spot.
post #2 of 206
This may be the first time I think Apple is being a money hungry whore. Make it a $1.00 and we got a deal Steve.
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post #3 of 206
5 bucks is really next to nothing, but this is a crass money grab.

Every once in a while Apple dissapoints me, and this is certainly one of those times. Although, I do admit I know nothing about the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but from the description it seems like more of an excuse than a requirement.
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post #4 of 206
So, how long before the patch ends up on BitTorrent or Limewire ... heh ... I can understand why Apple has to charge the fee, but it will bite them in the ass I'm sure. Of course, 802.11n is kinda new so it may not be a huge deal for a lot of people
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post #5 of 206
Interesting. Well, how does this apply to later down the line, if at all, when Apple decides to upgrade the features and services to iPhone via a software update?
post #6 of 206
Does anyone recall any new features which have been added to OSX via Software Update?

I'm sure there have been a couple, at a minimum.
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post #7 of 206
just wondering, how would this affect how the final 'n' spec goes? i mean, its not 'finished', if you get me, so will other companies have to go the way apple has gone?
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post #8 of 206
Interesting reason for this fee... I guess we can thank Enron for this, right? Anyway, 5 bucks isn't a big deal.

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post #9 of 206
Interesting, but not surprising. Can't expect everything for free.
post #10 of 206
Apple wants $5 for this? Fine by me!!! Apple, you keep making awsome products that make my life easier, more productive, and better! Hell, if I could give you a 15% tip for not making me endure the nightmare that is windoze, I would.
post #11 of 206
$5 is nothing - the price of a happy meal. They certainly don't need your $5 - they could make more money other simpler ways. Hardly worth being 'stunade over.

They are stuck in the middle of the law, the emerging draft standard, the race to compete, and rapidly evolving hardware. Their choices were probably (1) hold up the manu line on the new macs (2) ship a buggy apx (3) run afoul of the law (4) shun the standard or (d) all of the above. They've had lawyers, engineers and MBA's up one side of this and down the other, I'm sure they've covered it as best they can. I doubt seriously if we're going to uncover something they missed.
post #12 of 206
This has to be the best real world application of an arcane accounting rule I have ever seen!

(and I do work in the public sector these days so I see a LOT of arcane accounting)

Why $5? Could be there is some basic cost to tracking and accounting for all this yet to be unrealized post sale after market non-profit. Or there might be an even more arcane rule in SarBox that sets the minimum a company may charge for this kind of silliness.

Long Live SarBox!
post #13 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by deep View Post

Apple wants $5 for this? Fine by me!!! Apple, you keep making awsome products that make my life easier, more productive, and better! Hell, if I could give you a 15% tip for not making me endure the nightmare that is windoze, I would.

Interesting contrarian post. I tend to agree. $5 isn't a deal breaker. Hell my extra value meal that I'm scarfing down right now cost me $7 to pollute my arteries and ensure a quicker death. LOL.

Interesting point about the Sarbannes-Oxely stuff. I didn't know there was language like that in it.
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post #14 of 206
Well i ordered my macbook on saturday, after the 802.11n confirmation, so i ordere it knowing it has n, also i'm in the Uk, so this act is irrevelant. Any guesses on if this will still count?
post #15 of 206
Hmm, interesting theory. I'll be interested to see the official apple line on this one. If it is true, what about countries where the act does not apply?! Do they get it for free?
post #16 of 206
Thankfully, it was already in my radar to buy the new Airport Extreme Base Station when it comes out to complement my new mac - yes ladies and gents, I finally pulled the trigger on Thursday and so far, I'm loving the MBP. I'd pay the 5 bucks if I needed to... not a big deal. What I want to know is when next month will the base station be out? C'mon, don' t have me waiting to the 28th!
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post #17 of 206
That's where P2P comes in handy. Not that I endorse piracy. Heaven forbid!
post #18 of 206
I am not really sure how I feel about this...I have come across alot of unadvertised updates before...and never paid for them. I have a hard time believing this will go over well with most people. Yeah its only 5 bucks, but its the idea of paying for something any smart user could unlock themselves.
post #19 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


According to the editor, the fee stems from a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring some onerous accounting measures.

Makes perfect sense. Apple has always gone the extra mile to comply with accounting laws.

hahaha.

But seriously, isn't every 'free' upgrade a similar event? I don't believe this is a cash grab, but it is a poorly thought out policy.
post #20 of 206
I imagnine they know the patch will be in the wild instantaneously - but that's not their problem
post #21 of 206
What I want to know is when will Apple make "n" cards available for those of us with slightly older machines, such as the MacBook 1.0? I would buy a new Airport Extreme card for my Book in a heartbeat, but there seems to be no word on if these will even be made available.

Anyone else hear anything hopeful?
post #22 of 206
I'm skeptical of that claim. I won't say it isn't true, but I've never heard of such provision, so I'll wait for some expert second opinion on this before going along with it. I didn't know that all features had to be advertised, if that's true, then it is screwed up. I don't have a problem with the cost, but I don't want to be paying the money if it's just Apple blowing smoke again, and it isn't as if Apple has never done that.
post #23 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by SirROM View Post

What I want to know is when will Apple make "n" cards available for those of us with slightly older machines, such as the MacBook 1.0? I would buy a new Airport Extreme card for my Book in a heartbeat, but there seems to be no word on if these will even be made available.

Anyone else hear anything hopeful?

The biggest concern I've heard of is that "n" uses three antennas and the older machines don't have three antenna connections. If they do it, it's probably a mail-in or carry-in type thing to install a third antenna, assuming there is a way to put one in.
post #24 of 206
Any idea whether older (1 year) Intel iMacs can take advantage of the 802.11n speeds?
post #25 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou View Post

Well i ordered my macbook on saturday, after the 802.11n confirmation, so i ordere it knowing it has n, also i'm in the Uk, so this act is irrevelant. Any guesses on if this will still count?

Apple is based in the US and is subject to US accounting laws. I may be wrong, but I think it's sort of irrelevant where they sell the product, they still have to obey US accounting laws.

I do agree that the whole affair seems a bit odd, but I guess maybe they are trying to make sure they dot every i and cross every t after the options scandal.

Enjoy the new machine, I've had mine for a few weeks now. I also waited until they had pre-n built-in to purchase, although I just waited until I heard confirmation that the hardware existed. I sort of assumed a patch would come along. Good thing I wasn't wrong.

-Derek
post #26 of 206
I am angry about this. $5 is nothing - but the 802.11n hardware that has been shipped in Macs has never worked properly.

It is galling to be told that I can upgrade to 250megabit performance if I pay $5. After months of problems we still don't have reliable 802.11g hardware. We are owed a bug-fix. For free!

C.
post #27 of 206
OK, US$4-99 to activate a feature that already exists is the shipped hardware - now that is a bit steep. Of course the expense Apple has gone to to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act needs to be recovered from somewhere, I just rather it wasn't as a secondary impost, or tax on my new MBP!!!

Say doesn't this sound like taxation without representation? We all remember what happened last time. . .
post #28 of 206
Are Dell, HP, IBM or Lenovo doing the same as Apple?
post #29 of 206
The question about whether previous updates installed new features misses the point somewhat.
Let's say Apple released an update to OS X 10.4 that included a new application, or an update to an existing one, it wouldn't require a fee.
But installing a feature that was then locked up until the spec for it was agreed, then unlocking it... that's different. Macs being sold today, and appearing on the order books, would technically be the same as models selling yesterday that weren't the same, but are now...

You know what? It's complicated. It all works out fine in my head, so let's leave it at that.
I guess $5 is the lowest nominal fee that would get around the issue. It costs money to collect small payments, so anything below a certain figure is a loss, which would cause more problems than it's worth, and... oh sod it. I couldn't care less!
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post #30 of 206
You know there is egregious fanboyism happening when people here are easily justifying a $5.00 fee which, especially if Apple's hands are tied by this law, they are fully justified to understand and <i> then be annoyed by! </i>

I really hope there is no law requiring an extra fee for each song the ipod holds past apple's advertised rounded numbers.

Though it would explain the perpetual 2001 feel and featureset of .Mac
post #31 of 206
Looks like there's yet more fallout from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Like "campaign reform" that meant less free speech, when Congress tries to do good, it ends up botching it. What is blue blazes did Enron have to do with improving an already shipping product? And if Apple wants to avoid accounting costs, why not just allow untracked downloads and call it a fix for a problem?

One test of Apple's sincerity about this is whether currently shipping Macs will have 802.11n enabled. There shouldn't be any legal messiness about doing that, it wouldn't be an "unadvertised new feature of an already sold product." It'd be a promised feature for a not-yet-sold product.

So what about it Apple. Will you enable "n" in all Macs shipping from some date or not?
post #32 of 206
accounting problem? their CAs, MBAs cannot solve this accounting problem???

take it as loss or something else ... and pay for the license or patent ...

$5 is not big, this is NOT way ask the customer, we shipped something we do not know either you do not know, but we are charging 5 bucks to enable that and will see whether still it works fine or not ...

i am big apple fan boy myself, this looks WEIRD

(next time will they underclock CPU and ask money to over clock again ???)

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post #33 of 206
So is this the reason why owners of later PowerBooks and iBooks don't have multipoint contextual menus as an option for their trackpads?
post #34 of 206
And if you think of it as your Macbook has 802.11 N inside doesn't it make you think you actually got a better deal?
post #35 of 206
Well, it probably costs Apple more than $5 to add a new product and do the admin for something like this, so they have my sympathy if Sarbanes-Oxley really is to blame. It's always great to see the unintended consequences of poorly thought out legislation, rushed out by politicians because they want to cash in on some issue that happens to be headlining the evening news a few days in a row. (Of course, as a Brit I really shouldn't be complaining if it means most new company offerings are appearing in London rather than on Nasdaq or NYSE as a result, but that's another matter :-)
post #36 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by jongleur View Post

OK, US$4-99 to activate a feature that already exists is the shipped hardware - now that is a bit steep. Of course the expense Apple has gone to to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act needs to be recovered from somewhere, I just rather it wasn't as a secondary impost, or tax on my new MBP!!!

Say doesn't this sound like taxation without representation? We all remember what happened last time. . .

First point, it wasn't an advertised feature and wasn't even known initially. I wonder how many found 'n' a deal maker? Second, 5 bucks for what is effectively a "hardware" upgrade? Bargain. Third, taxation without representation? Rubbish, you vote by not buying an Apple product. And I suggest that anyone who decides to no longer buy Apple products because of this is petty in the extreme.
post #37 of 206
I'd imagine that if this rule exists, the spirit of it is that the cost of the new feature must match its value. Hence, giving it away for 1 cent, would still get them into trouble. Someone has probably had to write a large document analyzing the value of having a pre-n wifi card, and came up with something close to $4.99. That said, I don't really think they're going to complain much if you bittorrent it.

On another note, I don't believe that companies do have to comply with SOX where ever they are selling products outside the US. I worked for a large multinational financial company in the UK and they were complying with SOX but purely because they expected similar regulation to come into force here (and standardization across the company). I imagine Apple will charge the same everywhere though (well, they always charge the UK too much, but thats another story!)
post #38 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou View Post

Well i ordered my macbook on saturday, after the 802.11n confirmation, so i ordere it knowing it has n, also i'm in the Uk, so this act is irrevelant. Any guesses on if this will still count?

Wow, I always thought UK was State 51!
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post #39 of 206
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

According to the editor, the fee stems from a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature of an already sold product without enduring some onerous accounting measures.

"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 hasnt finished delivering the product at that point," he wrote.

This has to be the stupidest excuse I've ever heard. If Apple wants to charge $4.99 for the update, fine, but don't give out lame excuses.
post #40 of 206
If you sell something and don't deliver it you can not book the revenue. It becomes a liability you must carry on your books until you complete the sale by delivering the total product. This is a hardware feature set that is being enabled and not a software feature. It's no surprise that in the wake of Enron the Congress might seek to clarify our accounting rules and that is what the Sarbanes Oaxley Act is.

I imagine that at 5 bucks they are still losing money on this transaction and there is bound to be some aspect of the rules that prevents it from being a token fee. Enron cheated by claiming profits on goods never shipped. Apple ships goods never sold (n compatibility) and to stay on the right side of the law they need to charge a fee, so what.

As a stock holder I'm glad to see them another lawsuit. And I'm glad to say that my confidence in buying their stock is now making it easier to buy their great products since it all can be paid for with profits on their actions.

I may have had to postpone a hardware purchase or 2 to put together the nut but now I get to buy new toys with an even bigger smile. Prior to this I'd laid out tens of thousands buying Apple hardware and software since '84.

Happy Mac'ing
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