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Derek Martin wrote:
> [An example that's similar, which I think illustrates how this is
> sleazy, is when a vendor sells, say, two different models of the same
> stereo receiver which are identical in every way, but one has its
> remote control sensor (present but) physically disabled, and sells the
> disabled one at a lower price than the enabled one.  It's dishonest.]
I'm not sure why it's dishonest - you weren't lied to, and you received 
a discount for purchasing a product with lower capabilities.

I've worked for at least one company that did this.  In that case, it 
was an expansion card that had either a 8k or 16k buffer (and a few 
other features).  The only difference between the two cards was a 
setting in its firmware that told the driver what capabilities to 
enable.  Yes, all the cards really had a 16k buffer.

The engineering cost for both cards was far less than designing two 
separate cards, the parts that were needed were exactly the same, and 
thus the manufacturing was simpler and of higher quality.  Getting a 
single run of PCB cards of 1000 parts was less than two separate runs of 
500 each.  Repairing cards was easier, and we always had stock to send 
out as a RMA - just drop in the right firmware and send it off.  At no 
point did we lie to customers about the product they purchased.  The 
lower cost card was hundreds of dollars less than the more expensive 
card.  We wound up with a broader product line, and users that didn't 
need the additional capabilities didn't have to pay for it.  I can 
almost guarantee that had vendors been forced to make separate products, 
the costs for both would be far higher, and it's likely you'd be dropped 
down to only one choice which would likely be the more expensive product.

Now, this did mean that when I pushed to open source the driver (to 
support Linux), there was considerable pushback since anyone that read 
the code would know they could easily ignore the setting in the firmware 
and enable the additional features.


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