Apple to charge you to unlock hardware you already purchased.

If you own a Core 2 Duo-based Mac then chances are your computer already has an 802.11n wireless card built into the motherboard, but that card has been locked into working only in 802.11b/g mode. Apple has a patch that will unlock the 802.11n mode, but they’re not going to just give it to you:

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.

So if you buy their brand spanking new AirPort Extreme for $179 they’ll be kind enough to give you a patch that will actually let your Mac’s internal wireless card—again which you’ve already technically paid for—operate in the mode it was originally designed to work in. But what if you don’t want their shiny new AirPort Extreme?

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 hasn’t finished delivering the product at that point,” he wrote.

Ta-da! It’s not our fault! It’s the entertainment companies insisting on DRM Sarbanes-Oxley Act!

Granted $5.00 isn’t likely to bankrupt anyone, but it’s still somewhat galling having to pay extra money to make hardware you’ve already paid for perform at full functionality and blaming it on the Sarbanes-Oxley Act is pure bullshit.

Next up they plan to quietly introduce a new three button mouse, but you’ll have to wait several months after they introduce it and pay $5 before the third button will work unless you’re willing to pony up for their Mighty Mouse Extreme Mouse Pad for only $30!

19 thoughts on “Apple to charge you to unlock hardware you already purchased.

  1. Wow, Les. Has this site become the “Apple Haters Club”? Man, your complaining about a $5 charge to get 802.11n without having to go out and buy a new computer, which Apple is usually notorious for, to get the feature turned on? Really?

    Are you kidding about the mouse? I haven’t heard anything about a 3 button mouse.

    I was very impressed with the Mighty Mouse when I got one with my Mac Pro. At first, I really thought the MM would be really bad. I really love the little trackball in the middle that acts as the scroll wheel. Right clicking really works without a button. Now, the downside of the device. I still don’t like the mouse being the button like the original mouse the MM was designed on. Picking up the mouse to get more mouse pad space is really difficult. The absolute killer for me is that when you try to press the left and right buttons at the same time, the MM treats that as a left click. Assuming that the user wants to do a left click. When World of Warcraft sees both the right and left buttons down, it allows you to walk forward and turn at the same time. Can’t be done with the MM. So I’m using a regular Microsoft 5 button mouse.

    So I won’t be buying a new Mighty Mouse anytime soon.

  2. In a quasi-releated item, Lite-On apparently had some of their DVD-roms capable of more than advertised.  I found forums where it was said that if you downloaded a slightly older driver update for, say a dual layer, 16x burner onto a lower cost, single layer, 8x model, you would end up with the dual layer 16x capabilities.  Now, I haven’t personally seen a drive that had this, the posts were a year old at the time, but since I had a client’s dead Lite-On burner, I thought I’d give it a shot.  Again, not having personally seen it, and only reading forum posts about it, I found it interesting that only the very latest drivers were available from Lite-On, and they ran a hardware check to see what model you had before installing.  The drivers supposedly used to “upgrade” were no longer available, though they were still listed on the support site. 

    On the Apple thing, I wonder how long before a hack shows up for it.

    We have an older Dell laptop that has a blank over the network jack location(didn’t pay for one when we bought it), which is RIGHT next to the modem jack.  Now that it’s not going to be used often, I’m planning on opening it up and checking it out. 

    It wouldn’t surprise me if it had the network circuitry.  Many times it’s cheaper to just put in circuitry and slow/disable it for lower end models.  Keeps the manufacturing/test costs down since you’re working with the same device setup.

  3. From the Register:

    Crazy, but that’s accountancy for you. Had Apple actually said at their launch that its latest Macs would one day be upgradeable to 802.11n, it could have avoided the charge, it seems. Apple isn’t alone in shipping machines with 802.11n-capable Wi-Fi adaptors, nor is it the only one that hasn’t said those adaptors will one day be allowed to operate in accordance with that WLAN specification. So expect other vendors to charge too.

    Really makes it sound like Apple’s looking for some “easy” money.

  4. A year ago, I would have been right with you on that statement. However, with all I have been through win Windows, it wasn’t that terribly hard to sway me over to the Mac camp.

    Although, as I look back at the posts so far, it looks like DRM is the real problem here, not one type of computer or the other. And when it comes to DRM, I’m right there with him. I hate it with a passion. Not a lot I can do about it other than to buy music from really great independents that are trying alternative methods to get their music out to the public. That may be because they can’t get a record to sign them, or maybe they don’t want to sign their lives away, but what ever the reason, I’ll do what ever I can to help promote them.

    To the independent movie industry starting to spring up now. There are some fine looking works coming from the likes of Tim Russ. Movies and other video content will be free as well. Or at least free from the evil grips of the MPAA.

  5. Dave M. writes…

    Wow, Les. Has this site become the “Apple Haters Club”? Man, your complaining about a $5 charge to get 802.11n without having to go out and buy a new computer, which Apple is usually notorious for, to get the feature turned on? Really?

    I don’t hate Apple, I just dislike some of what they’re trying to pull.

    You’re seriously telling me you’re not at all upset about the idea of having to pay more money to unlock something you’ve already paid for? I’d be pissed as hell.

    Are you kidding about the mouse? I haven’t heard anything about a 3 button mouse.

    I was kidding. It was a poor attempt at sarcastic humor. grin

    Although, as I look back at the posts so far, it looks like DRM is the real problem here, not one type of computer or the other. And when it comes to DRM, I’m right there with him. I hate it with a passion.

    Indeed, that’s my biggest issue with Apple. I think they put out cool products otherwise.

  6. OK, first off, I don’t have a system that has this thing. Second, if I did, I would be overjoyed that I don’t have to go out and buy a new system just to get 802.11n if I needed it. So, no, I would not be the lest bit annoyed at paying a whopping $5 for 802.11n.

  7. And when it comes to DRM, I’m right there with him. I hate it with a passion. Not a lot I can do about it…

    There’s always Linux…

  8. Bob:
    How does Linux get you out of DRM? Lets look shall we.

    Linux has open source media players. Guess what. Windows and OS X do too.

    Linux has a music store to purchase non-DRM’ed music from. Guess what. So does Windows and OS X. Again.

    Linux has the ability to RIP CD content and DVD content. Do I need to say it again. Sure, Windows and OS X again has software to do this and is also free via Open Source.

    Linux can play media purchased with DRM… Opps, maybe not. (I can’t say for sure since I don’t use Linux, but the only way I know of to buy media with DRM on Linux is via a tool that DVD-Jon wrote to access the iTunes Music Store and buy songs. Not really legal either.) Not that anyone would want to purchase DRM’ed media in Linux anyway, but if it’s your only OS and you want to get content to watch/listen to…

    So, please explain to me why Linux would be a better alternative to either Windows or OS X when it comes to DRM.

  9. So, please explain to me why Linux would be a better alternative to either Windows or OS X when it comes to DRM.

    Open source equals no lock-in and dirty tricks. If you run Windows or OS X, you’re at the tender mercy of Microsoft and Apple, with thumbscrews tightening at their pleasure.

  10. Elwedriddsche, am I missing something here? I may be slow, but how is Microsoft or Apple going to thumbscrew the Open Source movement? Are they going to put something in their OS that stops Open Source software from running?

    Bob’s suggestion of trying Linux to avoid DRM said to me that there are players and such in Linux that is DRM free. I pointed out that the same can be said for Windows and OS X.

    Is there a movement by Microsoft and/or Apple to kill the Open Source movement. Well, I suppose Microsoft has been grumbling about Open Source and is trying to stop it. I can’t see how they can, and I really can’t see how they can stop Open Source software from running on a PC.

    If my memory serves me, Apple uses a technology called Darwin, which is Open Source. I’m pretty sure OpenGL is also Open Source. So I get the feeling that Apple is fully embracing the Open Source movement.

    So, elwedriddsche, am I missing something here?

  11. (Dave M.) Elwedriddsche, am I missing something here? I may be slow, but how is Microsoft or Apple going to thumbscrew the Open Source movement? Are they going to put something in their OS that stops Open Source software from running?

    Dave, I can’t help getting the impression that you are indeed a bit slow. Or you’re a troll.

    Microsoft, Apple, and other purveyors of DRM crippleware can tighten the thumbscrews of their own users. I’m at a loss to explain how you arrived at “Microsoft/Apple may thumbscrew the open source movement” from “If you use MS/Apple product, you may get thumbscrewed by them.”

    Microsoft in particular is certainly trying to thumbscrew the open-source movement in any way, shape, or form they can and the trusted computing stuff can be construed as an effort to ultimately prevent free operating systems and applications to run on standard computing/PC hardware. Read up on it if you care, I won’t go round this topic with you.

    I don’t follow the development of Darwin. As far as I know, it was released as open source, but now Apple is closing it up again or more specifically, the flow of updates to the public is drying up. Can you get the full sources of the current Mac OS kernel and recompile it on your own?

  12. Bob:
    How does Linux get you out of DRM? Lets look shall we.

    Linux has open source media players. Guess what. Windows and OS X do too.

    Linux has a music store to purchase non-DRM’ed music from. Guess what. So does Windows and OS X. Again.

    Linux has the ability to RIP CD content and DVD content. Do I need to say it again. Sure, Windows and OS X again has software to do this and is also free via Open Source.

    Linux can play media purchased with DRM… Opps, maybe not. (I can’t say for sure since I don’t use Linux, but the only way I know of to buy media with DRM on Linux is via a tool that DVD-Jon wrote to access the iTunes Music Store and buy songs. Not really legal either.) Not that anyone would want to purchase DRM’ed media in Linux anyway, but if it’s your only OS and you want to get content to watch/listen to…

    So, please explain to me why Linux would be a better alternative to either Windows or OS X when it comes to DRM.

    Where, in this comment, do you see me mention a Microsoft or Apple product! Please show me, I’m really at a loss for where you are coming up with this.

    elwedriddsche, who the hell is the troll here. I simply show Bob that there is Open Source software on both Microsoft and Apple platforms, and some how, you construe this to be an Anti-Linux comment? More, a comment trolling for a flame war?

    I pretty sure Les will back me up as “not” a troll as you so aptly put it. Now, what can we say for someone who seems to enjoy slandering a commenter on a blog? Hmmm.

  13. Man these topics are always tricky to address without offending people. I think there’s some miscommunication taking place here and it’s probably best to just let it lay where it is for now.

    I do want to say that Dave M. is definitely not a troll and has been a long time SEB frequenter although not always a regular commenter.

  14. Thanks Les!

    Yeah, I only comment in posts that I feel I can make a contribution on. I’m not a religious person, so I don’t really care one way or the other on most religious topics. Computers on the other hand I do feel that I can make a contribution on.

  15. At last an apple haters club!.I hate this company they are so greedy its unreal!.They should be slaughterd like animals for there insane piggery!.

  16. We don’t hate Apple, Andy. We’re just disgusted with some of their business practices. That’s true of a lot of companies.

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