No DRM in Headphones for New iPod Shuffle [Update]

The Mac web has been abuzz over the past few days regarding the possibility of an "authentication" or "DRM" chip included inside the headphones for Apple's new iPod shuffle released last week. After several days of investigation, explanations, and misunderstandings, the chip appears to contain no authorization or encryption component.

Following up on comments from iLounge regarding the existence of such a chip, Boing Boing Gadgets discovered the chip located inside the new iPod shuffles' headphone control module. The discovery touched off speculation that Apple had added the chip as a means to force third-party manufacturers to pay a licensing fee in order to produce headphones compatible with the new iPod shuffle.

Macworld, however, contacted an Apple spokesman about the matter. While the spokesman confirmed the existence of the chip, its intended purpose is said to be related to the "Made for iPod" program alone. Boing Boing Gadgets was also able to speak with Apple and received what is so far the clearest explanation regarding whether the chip contains DRM:

Just spoke with Apple. There is no encryption or authentication on the chip, so clones could conceivably be made, just not with "Made for iPod" official certification. And now we know!

Update: Apple offers a "Made for iPod" licensing certification for accessories that work with their iPods. With the introduction of this chip, Apple seems to have extended "Made for iPod" certification to headphones/remotes that work with the iPod shuffle. Previously, these accessories were not required to be "Made for iPod" certified. So while there is no DRM in the chips, themselves, it is unlikely that a 3rd party manufacturer would be carried in an Apple Store unless they are "Made for iPod". The implication is that Apple has further extended their control over 3rd party accessories for the iPod.

Related Forum: iPod touch and iPod

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