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

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.

"If you took this apart and put it in another product and Apple got a hold of it, they’d be able to see it’s from Mophie’s batch of Lightning connectors," said Ross Howe, vice president of marketing for Mophie.

The chip inside the Lightning connector can be reverse engineered — copied by another company — but it probably would not work as well as one that came from Apple, Mr. Howe said. Apple could also theoretically issue software updates that would disable Lightning products that did not use its chips, he said.

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.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
101 months ago
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.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago

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.

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?

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

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.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
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.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
"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.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
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.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
101 months ago
and you wonder why apple dropped off the most respected company perch. their insincerity has bubbled up to the surface....
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/amazon/9868018/Amazon-beats-Apple-and-Google-to-be-most-respected-company-in-the-US-report-says.html
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

iPhone 12 Pro Allows You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly Using LiDAR Scanner

Saturday October 24, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality experiences, but the sensor also enables another unique feature: the ability to measure a person's height instantly using the Measure app. You can even measure the seated height of a person in a chair, according to Apple. When the Measure app detects a person in the viewfinder, it automatically measures their...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

PSA: Non-iPhone 12 Models Charge Super Slowly With MagSafe Charger

Friday October 23, 2020 4:11 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a new $39 MagSafe Charger that's meant to work with the magnets in the iPhone 12 Pro models to charge them up at a maximum of 15W. The MagSafe Charger is technically able to be used with older iPhones, but it's not a good idea because the charging with non-iPhone 12 devices is so slow. We did two tests with the iPhone XS Max, draining the...

MagSafe Charger Teardown Reveals Simple Design With Magnets and Charging Coil Encircling a Small Circuit Board

Friday October 23, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
iFixit has today shared a teardown of Apple's new MagSafe charger for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. An X-ray of the MagSafe charger courtesy of Creative Electron reveals the internal charging coil surrounded by a circular arrangement of magnets within the puck. The only seam that iFixit was able to leverage to open the device was where the white rubber circle meets the metal rim,...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

iFixit Shares Full iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Teardown Revealing Interchangeable Displays and Batteries

Saturday October 24, 2020 1:48 pm PDT by
After live streaming a teardown of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro earlier this week, iFixit today provided a more in-depth teardown that goes through all of the components in the new devices, revealing several similarities between the two. Early testing conducted by iFixit shows that the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro displays are interchangeable and can be swapped without issue, though the max...