Apple Reveals It Intentionally Crippled Bluetooth in iPod touch 2G

When the iPod touch 2G first came out, one feature that was the subject of numerous rumors was Bluetooth compatibility.  The addition of Bluetooth would allow wireless stereo headphones and other cool gadgets to connect to the device. 

Instead, users got Nike+, a curious joint venture from Nike and Apple which used the same 2.4 GHz spectrum.  Apple insisted at the time that Bluetooth was not on the iPod touch and that Nike+ didn’t use Bluetooth.

Teardowns late last year, though, told a different story.  The teardown revealed a Broadcom Bluetooth chipset with support for 2.1+EDR.  The chipset, not listed on Apple’s spec sheet, was apparently being used to implement Nike+.  Some argued that there must be some hardware difference; Apple wouldn’t just lock out working functionality.

Well, they were wrong — during a Q&A session at the iPhone/iPod touch OS v3.0 press event this week, Apple let slip that Bluetooth is indeed on the iPod touch and that it intentionally crippled it.  The revelation came when some inquisitive bloggers noted that A2DP, wireless accessory control and peer-to-peer connections — key features of the new OS — all required Bluetooth.  Apple’s Greg Joswiak confirmed what many suspected, admitting that Bluetooth on iPod Touch 2Gs can be “unlocked” via an OS update.

Some are accusing Apple of intentionally crippling this key piece of iPod touch hardware as a ploy to sell its new OS.  Apple is offering the new OS free to iPhone customers, but its charging iPod touch customers $9.99 to upgrade and receive the complementary Bluetooth unlock.