It depends upon the perspective, doesn't it? Sure might seem like a rip-off to package the JTAG separately if you only plan to buy one unit.
It's a rip-off to package the JTAG separately if that's the only way to recover the device from brickville.
But, maybe if you've got something to sell to the public, you buy 100 Plugs and one JTAG port. That way, you don't have to pay for the FDDI chips, etc. for all the sale units.
That's really poor strategic thinking. Field upgrades are impossible without the FDDI chip. Your customers can't just tether it to their PC and use their AmahiTunes Poseurware to synchronize, reflash or extend the plug's firmware, they would have to ship the whole unit back to you. Or you could send them an updated MicroSD and dare them to violate their warranty by opening the case and atempting to replace it themselves (unless you also intend to turn your back on your customers after their worthless 30-day warranty expires, just like GST did to you), or introduce your customers to GST's exciting new Disposable Computing concept where they simply throw away their old plug computer and buy a new one every year (or after every power supply burnout, whichever come first).
Has it occurred to you that even the cable of the GuruPlug JTAG board was coincidentally designed to break or wear out after just a few insertion/removal cycles? You'll need well more than just one of them to flash your hypothetical 100 Plugs, and since the cables aren't sold separately from the JTAG board they have an effective replacement cost of $30. You'd be better off buying 100 JTAG boards and shipping those in the box (along with a note of apology for the shoddy design, construction and workmanship of your products) to your customers.
GSI has given us many reasons to think that they are either incompetent or dishonest (or both), but I just don't think their reasons here are this devious. Maybe I'm being naive, but I really don't think they left the JTAG out just to be able to sell us another box. The volumes must be so low that I don't believe they are making enough money to justify the cost to design, manufacture and stock a separate item just to upsell. Who knows.
Some things I've noticed about this:
- The mechanical interface for the JTAG board appears to be uSD. So, even though the link goes to the Guruplug JTAG board, it's not clear that if you already have one it will work with this plug (at least not without a different cable).
- The DP (like the Guruplug JTAG) also has a UART port. If this provides console access without a JTAG board, bootloader updates should at least be possible.