Apple's Strict Requirements for Its Third-Party Lightning Accessory Program Detailed

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    iPhone battery case maker Mophie, which recently announced the first battery case for the iPhone 5, explained some of the unique actions that Apple takes to lock down its Lightning connector to the New York Times.

    In order to only allow authorized connectors to connect to new iPhone and iPad models, Apple includes a serialized authentication chip in the connectors it sells to companies in its "Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad" or MFi program. If a company sells those Lightning connectors to another company, Apple can determine that it came from a particular MFi member.

    iPhone accessories are a multi-million dollar business and Apple wants to ensure that users have the best experience possible by only allowing approved third-party accessories to be used with new iOS devices. This strategy has the side-effect of making accessories more expensive because companies are required to pay a licensing fee to Apple to be part of the MFi program. Some companies, like Monoprice and Amazon, offer cheaper connectors that are approved by Apple.

    Article Link: Apple's Strict Requirements for Its Third-Party Lightning Accessory Program Detailed
  2. macrumors 68040


    Feb 12, 2010
  3. macrumors 68030


    Oct 3, 2009
    DRM, meet the most basic, necessary and simple (well, not any more) thing: the cable.

    I get the need for the smaller cable, I don't get the need for the chip: why can't USB (or a cable that uses a different shape USB) be enough to charge and sync the device? 4 pins, and no chip.

    If you want more fancy features like docks and cars, THEN use the expensive cable. They could make 2 cables, one which is only for charging and syncing and pretty much perfect for almost everyone, and one special, expensive one for the few people who want fancy features.

    For 99% of people, all they want is to charge their device and sync a few songs onto it every once in a while. What's the big deal??

    It's like forcing everyone to buy a car when all they need is a bike.
  4. macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    "iPhone accessories are a multi-million dollar business and Apple wants to ensure that users have the best experience possible by only allowing approved third-party accessories to be used with new iOS devices."

    Somehow the phrase before the conjunction makes more sense than the one after.
  5. macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Apple wants to charge top dollar for these cables and squeeze out the third parties ability to sell them.
  6. macrumors newbie

    Sep 10, 2009
  7. macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    Apple also likes to deny companies too. FiiO, a Chinese based DAC/Amp/PMP manufacturer has requested MFi certification and been denied.
  8. macrumors 68030

    Oct 31, 2007
    London, UK
    The best experience would have been without the six month gap with no accessories (and still no docks, massively high prices and few battery backs).

    Apple's attempt to fleece this market has harmed customers.
  9. macrumors 604


    Mar 26, 2008
    gotta love how apples marketing department always seems to be able to spin anything like they make everything to "please" the customers when it actually means "to make as much money as possible" if u read between the lines ^^

    they should write political statements / press releases :D
  10. ddarko, Feb 14, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013

    macrumors regular

    May 7, 2007
    Can we stop with the conjecture/editorial opinion being reported as fact? To my knowledge, Apple has never publicly discussed why it's gone down this strict path with Lightning accessories. People who are more skeptical and less doe-eyed than author Jordan Golson apparently is would think that, even if end user experience was important to Apple, the increased licensing revenue from maintaining such tight control is not a "side-effect" but a primary motive for Apple (after all, if Apple was only concerned with making sure devices work well together, it doesn't have to charge a licensing fee at all, it can just test and reject poor products). I happen to believe that revenue is a big reason for Apple's approach to Lightning licensing - as is quality control - but I also know that's conjecture on my part - I don't try to pretend I've read Tim Cook's mind.

    More broadly, Jordan Golson has a habit of writing his own opinions as fact in many of his writeups. It's irritating, it makes Macrumors more a fanboy Apple cheerleading site than an operation run by folks who have a respect for Apple but also willing to call a spade a spade when it needs to. If Golson insists on adding his personal opinion to a story, he should use the word "may" - "Apple may want to ensure that users have the best experience possible by only allowing approved third-party accessories to be used with new iOS devices." It would still be debatable but at least it would be clearer that it's the author's opinion and not a well-known fact that everyone accepts is true. See how easy it is?

    Apple has never said that's the reason, this is the author's own spin/opinion/editorial that he passes off as if it's a fact. The responsibility for this nonsense lies with Macrumors, not Apple.
  11. macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2008
    The other downfall is extending development times since Mophie just release their battery case. If Apple really cared about the accessory market some of these accessory makers would get prototypes so they could quickly get products to market.
  12. macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2010
    I'm with Apple all the way on this one. The lightning cable is s auperb bit of engineering and with something as lithe as an ipod touch 5G it required a plug of this sophistication to be invented.

    And by golly that's what Apple did and it is not an area that users would want to try and haggle over a few dollars. Besides that, they are allowing authorised people to make them cheaper anyway.

    To complain about this is churlish in the extreme. And also a bit sad.
  13. macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2006
    I'm going to bet it has as much to do with restrictions on working conditions for the workers at the manufacturer as quality assurance. Applying for a license is one thing, but having the necessary parts shipped to you is an added incentive to keep things in line.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2011
    You clearly don't get Apple. They want to make it as simple as possible. Two cables that do different things but look the same would be confusing. That is why Apple made sure the Thunderbolt cable looks different than the minidisplayport cable......

    Or the thunderbolt display looks different than the ACD.....

    You know Apple is PISSED that USB 3.0 looks identical to USB 2.0.
  15. macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I like the Lightning connector, but I don't like the sound of this--I file it under Needless Complexity.

    I'm not sure how making the chips traceable directly helps Apple make money, though. If Mophie sold some chips, Apple still got paid the fee for them in the first place anyway.

    So it does seem like that element may have a legitimate quality-control purpose. And maybe that's worth something: Lightning is an unusually flexible and future-proof kind of connector (able to re-assign its own pins, even power, on the fly) and maybe it's easy to screw it up? In which case, who gets the blame for Lightning unreliability? The third parties or Apple? Either way, we users would suffer the consequences.

    I can see why Apple wants to control quality (and worker conditions? also good) before they give out the tech they designed, let their MFi logo go on the box, and allow the product to affect iOS users.

    I'm also glad that official, licensed Lightning accessories CAN still be cheap (see: Monoprice).
  16. macrumors 68000


    Aug 15, 2011
    Now, that's innovation. If only that much effort went on iDevices, it would be great!
  17. macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    How is Apple not allowing other companies to make the same cable cheaper a good thing?
  18. macrumors 601


    Sep 16, 2007
    Northeastern Ohio
    Only way to stop 3rd party sales is selling OEM equipment and 3rd party prices. You'll never stop it 100% tho.
  19. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2010
    Yeah, as if that's the reason Apple is doing it. The clue is in the beginning of the very same sentence as well as the next one
  20. macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Why does that matter? USB 3.0 and 2.0 are backwards compatible.
  21. macrumors member


    May 6, 2011
    San Jose, CA
    The MFI program is extortion. It's designed not for quality but to allow a few select vendors who can afford access to benefit from locked in over pricing and throttled inventory.
  22. macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2011
    They are probably PISSED about that too.
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 18, 2007
    New Mexico

    I don't how we survived all those decades with "dumb" RS232 DB9 and DB25 connectors. It's a wonder we were able to print ANYTHING with Centronics or card-edge connections without an Connector Overlord.
  24. macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2010
    You lost me at golly.
  25. macrumors 68020


    Mar 17, 2009

Share This Page