If you have an iPod touch, check it for updates. Users are reporting that Apple has decided to drop the $4.99 upgrade fee for iPhone OS 3.0 on iPod touch.
The fee began as an excuse on Apple’s behalf, pointing to an obscure accounting rule that virtually nobody else agrees with in the industry. Apple argued that only devices (like iPhone) that were accounted for on a subscription basis could receive free software updates that add functionality. As such, iPod touch owners have had to pay for firmware upgrades, while iPhone users have enjoyed the same upgrades for free.
However, Apple’s plans to charge millions in software upgrade fees has largely failed. Developers are hesitant to update to iPhone OS 3.0 SDKs, as it means removing their app from availability on devices that still have iPhone OS 2.2.1. So, Apple developers resort to the lowest-common denominatory, leaving Apple with a fractured marketplace and the need to support 2.2.1 in current SDK releases. Developers also dislike the fee as they cannot take advantage of iPhone OS 3.0 features without also shedding users who don’t wish to pay the upgrade fee.
iPhone OS 3.0 has been rather easy to obtain without paying Apple’s fee, the iTunes web server offers the firmware download from a simple web browser request. This change appears to be timed alongside iPad’s release, and may also denote a shift in Apple policy away from the inexplicable legal accounting rule that they were clinging to.
Now developers will be able to target all of Apple’s mobile devices, however, the question remains if they will enhance their applications for iPad, considering the unknown market factor the device will have.
Apple declined an opportunity to comment for this article.