802.11n is $0.99 Too Expensive

Apple’s catching some flak for charging $1.99 (down from the $4.99 initially rumored) for turning on 802.11n functionality in existing laptops. They claim it’s the result of Sarbanes-Oxley accounting rules that prevent them from adding new functionality to an existing product. This interpretation of the Sarbox rules has been challenged,.

I’m not an accountant or a lawyer, but I suspect Apple’s wrong here. Regardless, though, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt in this case. I do believe Apple genuinely believes, rightly or wrongly, that Sarbanes-Oxley requires them to charge for this. However, Apple does have a dishonest track record of charging $20 shipping and handling fees for “free” updates. If they really want to be clear that this is just a technical fee they’re required to charge, not another scheme to extort money from customers to make an already purchased product work well, there are two things they should do:

  1. Reduce the fee to $1.00. This is the generally recognized nominal price for indicating that you have to charge something, but don’t really want to. For instance, it is what juries award in damages when they want to indicate that the plaintiff is legally right, but is basically a putz and is wasting their time with a trivial suit they were largely responsible for in the first place.
  2. Make sure the updater is not copy protected, and look the other way as it is freely distributed on file sharing networks.

$1.00 is still annoying, but I think that price would make clear to everyone that Apple really doesn’t want to charge for the update. They’re just being forced to by their interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley laws.

One Response to “802.11n is $0.99 Too Expensive”

  1. Ed Davies Says:

    Maybe they wanted to charge $1.00 but calculated it cost them at least $1.01 to process any payment at all.

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