Want 802.11n in your Mac to work? For you: only $4.99

Black_mac_bookI remember not too long ago when people realized that Apple was putting 802.11n functionality into the latest MacBook and MacBook Pro lines. Back then I thought it was a decent idea; at this point, the 802.11n draft spec should be relatively stable, so it’s a gamble with good odds. Today, I’m not so sure it’s all that great of an idea. Thanks to the interpretation of the Sarbanes-Oxley law, Apple is planning to charge a nominal fee of $4.99 to activate the faster wireless speeds.

While I can respect Apple wanting to follow the law; I just wonder if $4.99 is the lowest fee that would satisfy it. I would have rather seen a more modest fee to technically satisfy the rules; if they can charge $0.99 for a song on iTunes, maybe a buck would be enough to activate a product feature that you already own. What’s even worse in my mind: will other companies use the same interpretation to start charging for firmware upgrades that add functionality to existing devices? This is a precedent I’d rather not see….