Apple to impose 802.11n ‘unlocking fee’ on Intel Mac owners

Apple Store“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,” Katie Marsal and Kasper Jade report for AppleInsider. “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.”

Marsal and Jade report, “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.”

“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,” Marsal and Jade report.

Marsal and Jade report, “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.”

Full article here.

The reason for the fee, Jeremy Horwitz reports for iLounge is that “the Core 2 Duo Macs weren’t advertised as 802.11n-ready, and a little law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act supposedly prohibits Apple from giving away an unadvertised new feature for one of its products. Hence, said the Apple rep, the company’s not distributing new features in Software Update any more, just bug fixes. Because of Sarbanes-Oxley… 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.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Rainy Day” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme ‘AirPort Disk’ feature: cheap, simple network storage for home networks – January 15, 2007
Apple’s new AirPort Extreme supports 802.11n, enables wireless streaming of HD media – January 10, 2007
Apple introduces new AirPort Extreme with 802.11n – January 09, 2007


  1. Unless the fee is a nominal $5 or less, Apple will be bombarded with negative press for the move. And if they charge a substantial fee, then you know the shareware community will provide the tools for free or a nominal charge.

  2. Unfortunately, this is true about the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley, and the subsequent legal decisions based upon that law. This says little about Apple, although I’m sure everyone will bitch to high heaven about it. Rather, it shows exactly why good lawmakers are critical to the continued success of a country. We’ve had a Congress of lazy, uninterested-in-genuine policy, hacks running the US Congress for years, and laws like Sarbanes-Oxley are the result. A law was needed to hold corporate executives accountable for fraud and illegal activity, but Sarbanes-Oxley is a sledge-hammer approach, when all we needed was a small screwdriver, and craftsmen with some craft.

  3. Sarbanes-Oxley is BAD LAW. It imposed massive accounting regulations upon business indiscriminately. It’s the old fourth-grade tactic — a small number of companies screw up, so let’s punish all companies. And it’s sadly typical of what happens when you get government into the business of micromanaging business. If the problem was crime, then the answer is enforcement, not legislation. An even better solution to accounting fraud would be revival. That’s right. If people have internal checks and balances, then the problems of crime, legislation, and punishment are all headed off at the pass. I’ll bet all those who hailed Sarbanes-Oxley as punishing those bad, evil businesses never thought there’d be any personal repercussions for them.

  4. I don’t understand (am not familiar with) the law in question, but it seems impractical and unreasonable. Adding new features means your product was not complete at the time of sale? What an antiquated, pre-tech era way of looking at things. I realize the cost of developing the new feature has to be accounted for, but you can always assign it to marketing cost, R&D, customer support, etc. Our good buddy MS gives away free goodies and added features all the time, as do lots of other vendors (Adobe and many others). This really strikes me as a run-around. I’m not saying they don’t have a right to charge for it, but the offered explanation seems inadequate.

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