Something for Nothing

There are a couple of items in the news right now that do a good job at pointing out how whiny people really are. First up, Apple is being nice and letting certain computer owners upgrade their Wi-Fi to pre-N. They are charging $5 for this. I think this is completely reasonable. Most commenters are pitching a fit. They foam at the mouth and scream at Apple's audacity to charge for something they already have.

I think free software updates have spoiled people. Software didn't use to have free updates. You ran the version that came in the box and you liked it. As the net began draining into homes around the globe, we had an easy way to provide software updates. Combine that with the continued acceleration of the world and we ended up with more software, faster, but often with more bugs. This combo led to free updates. Some might be inclined to view it as fixing the crap that should have worked the first time. There are new features that are added for free, but should we always expect that?

So now we've moved past free software updates and people now want free hardware updates. Go ahead and argue that the upgrade to 802.11n is just software. If that's true, I know someone with a drawer full of Lucent Orinoco cards that would love for you to upgrade to 802.11n for them. Apple could have left the hardware out completely and made you take your computer in for service or ship it back for including the hardware. Instead, they provided a way to enable the feature at a cost later on. Sounds a lot like the OnStar you get in vehicles doesn't it? One guy even claimed that he was owed this upgrade because he made his purchasing decision based on the fact that Apple was including 802.11n capable hardware. He has conveniently forgotten that Apple never told him this. That was all rumor and sleuthing provided by the fan sites.

It seems this cost might be due to legal and accounting reasons. Even if it isn't, $5 isn't much. If you don't want it, don't buy it. If $5 turns you in to one of those people that rails against a company for petty stuff, well don't let the dogcow bite you on the way out.

The flip of this is Netflix's announcement that they will add streaming movie downloads for their customers. I'm a long standing Netflix customer and this is the best thing I've heard out of them since they dropped their price. For every dollar you spend, you get an hour of streaming video. That's amazing. I'm on the 3-out plan, so that would be 18 hours. We don't even watch 18 hours from the DVDs we get every month. This will help in my battle to ditch cable TV. I think this will be great for those movies that you get that are more about one fight scene or car chase. You can watch the good stuff and skip the shipping turnaround. You're also never without a movie. You can fire up your browser during netflux.

Bringing this back to the whining theme. One guy noted that Netflix is launching this as IE/XP only. He then demanded that since he couldn't run that combo, that Netflix drop his monthly subscription cost to cover the functionality he can't use. WTF? Dude, they are adding this on. You aren't paying for it today. If you don't like it, bail.

1 comment:

Jason said...

It seems like I was going to write something very similar to this recently.

People feel they are owed something, and you do a good job of tracing where the whole obligatory free software upgrades started.

I wasn't aware that Apple never actually advertised the 802.11n functionality as a feature. If that is the case, then I think what they are doing is completely acceptable, regardless of SarbOx.

As for Mr. IE/XP hater, I'm with you on wishing they had a better solution. And in the future, it would be cool if they had a cut rate membership for either web-only, or dvd-only (and I'm sure they will). In the meantime, you can save money by canceling your entire account, or you can shut the hell up and pretend they never even announced this.