Apple puts DRM on new iPod Shuffle hardware

Most of you will know that Apple recently unveiled their new iPod Shuffle, much to everyone's surprise. Well, it appears that there have been some dirty secrets uncovered about the new device: according to iLounge, Apple has put DRM in the hardware to prevent you from using any earphones that you want.

You read that correctly. You will either have to use Apple earphones, or a third-party product which incorporates an 'Apple authentification chip', if you want to use the new device. iLounge had these words to offer about the topic: "This is, in short, a nightmare scenario for long-time iPod fans: are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to re-purchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality? It's a shame, and one that consumers should feel empowered to fight." Apparently the device will still work and play music, but you won't be able to change volume or tracks, unless, as mentioned, the headphones have the chip in them.

The EFF also said that, "If it were Microsoft demanding that computer peripherals all include Microsoft 'authentication chips' in order to work with Windows (or Toyota or Ford doing the same for replacement parts), I'd think reviewers would be screaming about it."

So far, Apple's new iPod Shuffle has had mixed reviews, and this certainly doesn't help the Cupertino-based company. What do you think about this?

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Updated: The bridge to Microsoft, literally

Next Story

EVGA launches try and review loaner program

168 Comments

View more comments

I'm thinking this is aimed at people who want a "complete solution" i.e. they will be more than happy to use the Apple headphones that come with it, don't already have any other ones... I can see this being bought as a "first MP3 player" for a lot of people..

Presumably they are keeping control over who can make the controller chip in the headphones in order to ensure only good quality ones get made.. still, I think it's all a rather bad move on their part.

What makes this DRM? The simple fact that the headphone cord could have been a 2" stub with the controls on the plug where the headphones of your choice would be inserted. They are restricting your Right to Manage your own Digital entertainment and use the cans you want. You must use the ones they authorize by licensing the chip. That is DRM at its core.

I've been begging my cousin not to buy another iPod after two have already kicked the bucket on her, but nope. Apparently ipods are "kewl" and all other brands are lame. So it's not really a portable music player, it's a trendy fashion accessory. Whatever, it's not my money.

yeah its just that its "kewl" cause it way more expensive than any "lame" players which by the way can kick the ass of any iPod variant not only in features but ,more importantly, in sound quality as well. has anybody tried comparing the sound quality of "kewl" iPod vs "lame" -insert underrated player brand here-? iPod sound quality sucks. but deluded iPod owners are clueless so i leave them to their ignorance.

btw, +1 on "it's a trendy fashion accessory".

on the subject of the headphone, this new iPod Shuffle headphone design means you can't buy any other brand (which can somehow enhance the sound quality of an iPod) which leaves new iPod users even more clueless what real sound quality is. good luck with your trebles cause you will never hear bass again. do not break or loose your new fangled headphones or you have to shell out more $ for that. XD.

This article is pure FUD. Does anyone even know what the licensing fees are going to be, if any, for the control chip? The assumption a lot of you are making is that Apple removed the unit controls just so they could block 3rd party headphones without getting a cut of the action. The restrictions in playback features when using a regular set of headphones are due to the player not having any controls, not electronic restrictions due to "DRM".

Well it states that hardware manufacturers will need to use an authentication chip and given Apple has already done this in the past with the dock connector which prevented older docks being able to output video on newer iPods then sure, I really wouldn't put it past Apple that this was a deliberate move.

The shuffle is a waste of money, here in new zealand, why spend all that money, when you can get a cheap mp3 player from the local computer shop!

If it stll plays the music, it's not DRM. Thanks for lying, Sam Symons.


I know the new shuffle has the controls on a cord coming from the unit, this is to decrease its size. This probably has more to do with the controls than the headphones. People are always so quick to complain about everything.

DRM doesn't only deal with music. It's copy and usage control. This qualifies. If it were just the controls they could have included a "dongle" headphone cord with a plug for your own phones on the control nodule, but they didn't.

GreyWolfSC said,
DRM doesn't only deal with music. It's copy and usage control. This qualifies. If it were just the controls they could have included a "dongle" headphone cord with a plug for your own phones on the control nodule, but they didn't.


Then why does the article say "or a third-party product which incorporates an 'Apple authentification chip', if you want to use the new device. "
Sounds like a dongle to me. It's just not included in the box, has to be purchased separate. You can still use any headphones you want.

The bottom line's that as it is now your choices for headphones with the new Shuffle are extremely limited if you don't want to shell out extra cash for the authentication chip that 'phone manufacturers will almost certainly pass on to the consumer. This might not be digital, but it is DEFINITELY rights management, and works on the same principles and rationales behind DRM.

I don't understand how this article is valid, when numerouse reviews and people who already own one, have said you can still connect any headphphones or speakers to it and it will automatically play at the volume level it was used at last time.

I think the article is bull****.

How convenient is it to you to swap your headphones every time you needed to change the volume? Would it be ok to have a car work similarly? You must take out your spark plugs and reinsert them to start the car...

^ That's not the point, the article states you cannot use other headphones period, because of some authentication chip.

Let us stop talking about the no controls part and talk about the validation of this article! And wheather it is true or not.

And as I stated in my previous post, it cannot be true because people have already checked and know it works with other headphones, regardless of controls.

Whatever the people at iLounge found, it isn't what they think it is.

If you want the new Shuffle to work as intended you must buy Apple-approved headphones. End of story. The issue is not whether other headphones will function. OSX will run on a non-Apple PC, but that's not working as intended. Should Apple just allow it, then?

Actually let me correct myself, it's not the people at iLounge that are at fault for this misinterpreted article but Sam Symons is. I just read the whole review at iLounge, and nowhere do they even mention hardware DRM limiations, the only thing they say is that an authentication chip will placed in new headphones to come to comply that the remote works properly. They even use a 3rd party headphones to test the sound quality in the review. This article is a complete misinterpritation of the review. This should be either removed, edited, or a new article should be written apologizing for starting a false rumor.

pepo said,
Actually let me correct myself, it's not the people at iLounge that are at fault for this misinterpreted article but Sam Symons is. I just read the whole review at iLounge, and nowhere do they even mention hardware DRM limiations, the only thing they say is that an authentication chip will placed in new headphones to come to comply that the remote works properly. They even use a 3rd party headphones to test the sound quality in the review. This article is a complete misinterpritation of the review. This should be either removed, edited, or a new article should be written apologizing for starting a false rumor.

Especially since now news sites are reporting that Apple is in fact NOT using any DRM.

The headphones are simply using a remote control chip that sends signals to the device, which Apple has stated anyone can copy - They just will not receive "Made for iPod' status; just as a lot of 3rd party headphones don't now.

If a 3rd party company wishes to embrace the shuffle enough to add this type of chip to their line, they can.

End of story.

Binary said,
Especially since now news sites are reporting that Apple is in fact
NOT
using any DRM.

The headphones are simply using a remote control chip that sends signals to the device, which Apple has stated anyone can copy - They just will not receive "Made for iPod' status; just as a lot of 3rd party headphones don't now.

If a 3rd party company wishes to embrace the shuffle enough to add this type of chip to their line, they can.

End of story.


Hum

I guess what i wrote under this post doesn't apply then. I still hate iTune though

This is just bad.

This is the sort of things that keep me from buying an iPod.

I really do like the iPod Touch. In fact if you consider the hardware only it's my favorite mp3 player on the marker. That thing is so sexy it screams buy me buy me when i look at it.

I really wish Apple would open the iPod line a little more. I don't want to install iTune to transfer music to my mp3 player. And i want to stay away from drm. I can understand Apple not letting you install free 3rd party apps found on internet (after all MS don't let you do this with the 360 either) but i want to have more freedom with the things i buy than Apple is giving me with the iPods.

I will keep my Sansa running Rockbox.

Commenting is disabled on this article.