Why Is Apple Charging a Dollar for Video Chat?

New MacBook Pros are here, with spiffy HD cameras popped into their faces. Neat! HD video chat sounds fun. Less fun? The fact that Apple's FaceTime app—you know, the program for the chat protocol they're trying to make ubiquitous—is no longer free.

The 1.0 release—up scantly, from the previous (free) 0.9 version—adds virtually nothing in the way of new features, aside from 720p HD video call support. But that's a given—the new MacBook Pros have HD cameras so that you can make HD calls. Apple didn't put those in there so you can make goofy, high resolution portraits of yourself in Photo Booth—the HD camera is to give FaceTime a shot in the arm.

The new app is a buck. Which is very little. Why would Apple put a dollar barrier—a psychologically high one—across the platform it's trying to push into every one of its devices? If FaceTime is ever going to become anything resembling universal, putting an extra price tag on already pricy hardware could hamstring the whole effort. The extra dollar is marginal, sure, but it's a confounding decision, insulting to users, and plain petty.