Nilay Patel at Engadget has a fascinating post about Apple’s $20 charge for Mail, Maps and a few other apps on the iPod touch, allegedly because doing otherwise would run Apple afoul of Sarbanes-Oxley Act accounting requirements. Essentially, the argument goes, Apple is required to charge for any “major” features that aren’t enabled upon shipment for any product that doesn’t have its cost spread across a recurring subscription business model, as the iPhone and AppleTV are.
Which sounds plausible, until you realize that Apple has enabled such features as podcasts, search games and others for the iPod without charging for it. Not to mention which, iTunes is perpetually upgraded for free, no matter what you’re installing it on, whether you even own an iPod or not. Patel puts it well:
iPod name or no, the iPod touch is essentially a little computer, and the whole purpose of software is to enable “significant unadvertised new features” on a computer. For Apple (or anyone) to say that a mail app is a “significant new feature” for a computer is pushing the line just a bit far, and it makes us wonder how the company accounts for new versions of iTunes, QuickTime, and Safari, each of which add new features to already-sold Macs — and how things are going to play out when the iPhone / iPod touch SDK is released next month.
Seriously. Something stinks in Cupertino. Why the heck should a consumer have to care whether the device they buy gets reported as subscription revenue or not? That’s a company’s problem, and it’s goofy to discriminate between products on an arbitrary basis. Just sounds like a way to get some extra bucks out of touch owners to me.