Apple confirms no DRM, authentication, just licensing

A proprietary chip available exclusively through Apple was discovered in the new iPod Shuffle's headphones last week. This 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 and the possible roles of the chip being able to provide authentication or DRM.

Macworld and Boing Boing Gadgets have contacted Apple and confirmed that the chip is said to be meant for use with the 'Made for iPod' program alone and there is no encryption or authentication on the chip.

iLounge and MacRumors explain the logic behind Apple's licensing schemes.

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. Apple offered to sell developers the chip for $1 in a bundle with a $2 microphone, costs which are then multiplied and passed on to consumers. The component costs are now apparently lower. 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.

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35 Comments

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I only hope 3rd parties make use of this, because I personally would like controls on my headphones (but not the crap Apple ones) for use with my iPod Touch. The touch is nice, but changing songs and volume isn't as easy as it was on my G5 iPod Classic - a remote would really help.

Regardless if there is DRM or not, it was a DUMB ASS design for Apple to include the controls on the headset. They are also charging WAY TO MUCH for something that plays music and talks to ya.

lulz..What is this? The 1990s? "Made for IPod" "Designed for IE 6.0". At least you don't have to ask MS for permission to put the IE logo on a website. Proprietary hardware is 100000x worse than proprietary software standards. So now, headphone/earphone manufacturer have to ensure that their product works with the latest Apple music players since Apple is a monopoly in that market. And to those saying that people have a choice, well people did have a choice not to use IE as well and looked what happened to MS. Manufacturers and consumers will both suffer from Apple's unnecessary proprietary chip.

kheldorin said,
lulz..What is this? The 1990s? "Made for IPod" "Designed for IE 6.0". At least you don't have to ask MS for permission to put the IE logo on a website. Proprietary hardware is 100000x worse than proprietary software standards. So now, headphone/earphone manufacturer have to ensure that their product works with the latest Apple music players since Apple is a monopoly in that market. And to those saying that people have a choice, well people did have a choice not to use IE as well and looked what happened to MS. Manufacturers and consumers will both suffer from Apple's unnecessary proprietary chip.

OK, Mr. Know it all, where's the standard for headphone controls? Show me the industry standard. Ever seen the PSP headset? It uses a proprietary port and controls and so does pretty much every similar device.

Ricardo Gil said,
OK, Mr. Know it all, where's the standard for headphone controls? Show me the industry standard. Ever seen the PSP headset? It uses a proprietary port and controls and so does pretty much every similar device.


Standards start when the market leader works to standardize.

Don't like it? Don't buy an iPod.
It's not like Apple can force you to buy an iPod instead of a Microsoft, Creative, Sandisk, Samsung, or one of the dozens of other PMPs out there. I remember when Sony tried to introduce a proprietary headphone jack extension that allowed you to control thei Walkmans from an in-line set of controls on the headset. That went over like a lead balloon, and I predict that this similar baloney from Apple (iBaloney) will likewise fail.

Ricardo Gil said,
OK, Mr. Know it all, where's the standard for headphone controls? Show me the industry standard. Ever seen the PSP headset? It uses a proprietary port and controls and so does pretty much every similar device.

You cannot compare the PSP headset to the iPod. The problem here is the iPod used to use normal headsets where the PSP and certain other devices were always proprietary. Now Apple is changing things around when there is no reason to. They are becoming like MS in thinking they know what we want...and in fact they dont have a clue.

kheldorin said,
lulz..What is this? The 1990s? "Made for IPod" "Designed for IE 6.0". At least you don't have to ask MS for permission to put the IE logo on a website. Proprietary hardware is 100000x worse than proprietary software standards. So now, headphone/earphone manufacturer have to ensure that their product works with the latest Apple music players since Apple is a monopoly in that market. And to those saying that people have a choice, well people did have a choice not to use IE as well and looked what happened to MS. Manufacturers and consumers will both suffer from Apple's unnecessary proprietary chip.

Well you actually have to ask MS permission to make products for the 360.

I would like to be able to make my own avatar using Photoshop on my PC and then upload it to my 360. But i can't cause MS don't want to i need to buy expensive avatar MS is selling me on the marketplace.

Dude what Apple is doing here every big companies do it. Nothing to write home about.

LaP said,
Well you actually have to ask MS permission to make products for the 360.

I would like to be able to make my own avatar using Photoshop on my PC and then upload it to my 360. But i can't cause MS don't want to i need to buy expensive avatar MS is selling me on the marketplace.

Dude what Apple is doing here every big companies do it. Nothing to write home about.

The difference there is that the 360's licensing has very few negative effects on consumers. This, on the other hand, has the potential to cause a lot of confusion.

techbeck said,
You cannot compare the PSP headset to the iPod. The problem here is the iPod used to use normal headsets where the PSP and certain other devices were always proprietary. Now Apple is changing things around when there is no reason to. They are becoming like MS in thinking they know what we want...and in fact they dont have a clue.

Apple isn't changing a thing. They just added a different model to their line-up. All other iPods continue to use regular headphones, and I'm sure they will in the future. This particular model doesn't have buttons therefore requires a special headphone model.

Note to everyone:
The new shuffle is a product for a very small niche market, it isn't going to take over the world or replace every other model on the planet with new headphones. Who says it has to use normal ones? It wasn't designed that way, so either accept it or GTFO.

I think people are forgetting that nobody is forced to buy these new shuffles. There are plenty of alternatives out there, and if people have a problem with the locked in headphones they will go elsewhere...

I have a feeling the only people moaning are people who have never and will never buy an Apple product, and are just jumping on the hate bandwagon.

Nope, I own a 30gb iPod video and I am gripping about the headset as well. My next MP3 player will not be an iPod. Only reason why I got one was because of the accessories that are made for iPods are far greater than anything else.

And dont get me wrong, I like my iPod and it works great. I am just sick of the over pricing of Apples products so I will take my $$$ elsewhere and get a better player, more features, more storage, for cheaper. :-)

even if there was no chip in the ipod, people complain saying this chip restricts the headphones they can use ... ummm without the controls built into the headphones you wouldn't be able to control the damn ipod anyway!

ANY set of controls would have worked before as they were compatible. Thats the point, you have to rebuy your accessories even though there is NOTHING beneficial coming with that chip!
Understand now?

xfodder said,
even if there was no chip in the ipod, people complain saying this chip restricts the headphones they can use ... ummm without the controls built into the headphones you wouldn't be able to control the damn ipod anyway!


Why do people keep acting like it was some kind of mistake or not Apple's fault that the buttons were removed...

Why is everyone still making a big deal out of this?!

It's a freaking chip. It produces the control signals when the button is pressed. If 3rd party companies want the "Made for iPod" logo and promotion in Apple stores, they have to buy the chip (and pay licensing fees) from Apple. If companies don't bother with "Made for iPod" certification, then they will undoubtedly make their own chips that do EXACTLY the same thing... without the logo.

The result: expensive products get more exposure, less expensive products are ... less expensive. Nobody is losing!
Just go out and buy a pair of headphones with the specs you want that have the controller, or get yourself one of the little dongle-type adapters so you can use other speakers. And you know Chinese knock-off manufacturers will be all over the dongles and headphones in no time flat. High end manufacturers will still produce high-end stuff, but odds are, if you own this player, you don't care so much for high-quality output as you do getting the music to your ears.

Summary:
A) Don't buy it!
B) Cheap accessories will always exist, with or without "Made for iPod" certification and Apple-supplied chips.
C) Stop blowing this tiny freaking issue out of proportion.

'tiny' issue?

manufacturers:
- waste time and costs manufacturing headphones JUST for the shuffle/future ipods with such a requirement
- or according to your 'cheaper' alternative: waste time reverse engineering it

consumers:
- costs passed down to us, why do i need to go out and buy a dongle
- even now a dongle is not available yet
- i don't need a freaking microphone in my shuffle's headphone set!

all in all it's just much ado about nothing. apple could have just provided some vanilla dongle and it could've saved so much trouble.

if you let apple go this time round, they will pull this trick off again. or other manufacturers might. who doesn't like extra income by imposing your licensed, proprietary requirements on outsourced accessories? hurts competition imo.

id ont see the big fuss. if i want good headphones, they aren't going to be designed to have any volume control on them, so if my headphones cannot change the volume unless they are ipod ones i dont really care...

if i did want to be able to change the volume with headphones for my shuffle (assuming id ever buy one) i would have to buy ones designed for ipod, that would be "made for iPod"...
unless of course i bought shoddy ones that have inline volume control circa 1990 walkman [walkmen...? i dunno] days

i was going to say the same thing, all this does is allow the headphones carry extra controls. I remember having sony walkmans etc with special controls with the controller only working for Sony remote.

"just licensing" oh and full line forcing. You can't change the volume without a "licensed" accessory, that's a going to be a regulatory problem for Apple; if not in the United States then abroad.

hornetfighter said,
"just licensing" oh and full line forcing. You can't change the volume without a "licensed" accessory, that's a going to be a regulatory problem for Apple; if not in the United States then abroad.

Could you do it anyway if Apple didn't have the chip? I didn't think there was a standard around controls via headphone cables?

Pc_Madness said,
Could you do it anyway if Apple didn't have the chip? I didn't think there was a standard around controls via headphone cables?


Most likely no, but Apple could have used an open approach that didn't require a chip. For instance, since the Shuffle requires a morse code like clicking setup to get its job done they could have made it work by having the headphones short out a voltage line or the like...

It could have then been added to the headphone jack in such a way that it wouldn't break old headphones and headphone makers could make their products compatible without much more than downloading a spec doc from Apple's website.

Huh, well this still means that Apple will be getting extra money when they don't deserve it.

Also, you still can't use any standard computer speakers to play your Shuffle's music.

And, until the headphone companies design the new headphones, people are stuck with buying Apple headphones.

Still sounds pretty bad to me.

Agreed. I knew it had nothing to do with DRM. I, like everyone else, was protesting the extreme lameness of locking in all peripherals to the "Apple Tax" and instantly making all our previous purchases OBSOLETE.

For example, Ford automobiles have a built-in iPod jack now. My assumption all of these will fail to work with the new Shuffles unless I buy an "Apple approved" connecting cable. Pathetic.

excalpius said,
For example, Ford automobiles have a built-in iPod jack now. My assumption all of these will fail to work with the new Shuffles unless I buy an "Apple approved" connecting cable. Pathetic.


iPod connectivity in automobiles is generally done via the dock connector, which even the older shuffle lacks, so your point is moot. No version of the shuffle would work with it.

Err... Apple's statement doesn't make any sense at all. They added a hardware chip to products to determine that it has a logo on the box? If this chip does ANYTHING more than make the shuffle say "Made for iPod" on boot it is exactly what the previous discussion was about.

Seems the PR mill at Apple is hoping to stop the negative press. Luckily for us, at least, we're not all silly sheep.

I don't see what the problem is anymore if it turns out that every accessory will work with the new iPod shuffle all the same. That includes the ones that don't carry the "Made for iPod" badge.