Apple's reported 'Lightning only' MFi terms restrict combo adapters

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The death of a Kickstarter project that promised a charging device with support for Lightning, legacy 30-pin iDevice and micro-USB interconnects has shed light on Apple's strict Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod terms and conditions.

POP Station
The now defunct POP Station charging system. | Source: Edison Junior via Kickstarter


It was announced on Thursday that popular Kickstarter project POP, a mobile device charging system which surpassed its funding goal of $50,000 after 1,000 backers raised $139,170 in September, was officially canceled as Apple refused to approve the product as it uses Lightning alongside other interconnects.

In an update to its Kickstarter page, first reported by The Verge, POP creator and Edison Junior CEO James Siminoff said Apple effectively killed the project after he applied for permission to incorporate Lightning connectors in the charging unit. POP was funded before the release of the iPhone 5, which first introduced Lightning in October.

"After applying to Apple (which is now required for Lightning), we learned that they are no longer willing to approve a product that uses the Lightning charger alongside any other charger (including their own 30-pin ? seriously)," said Siminoff in a Kickstarter update. "Just like that, POP could no longer fulfill its true promise."

The move to limit third-party accessories to be Lightning-only should come as no surprise as Apple has been steadfast in retaining control over the new I/O protocol.

Apple held a conference in November to hammer out guidelines for Lightning's implementation in third-party products, though much of the details resulting from the meeting have yet to be revealed.

Lighting-enabled accessories have been slow to market and have only recently been seeing release by companies like Belkin. Apple is in complete control of the the crucial pins and authentication hardware used in Lightning's connector, prohibiting companies from manufacturing the component without a license. A report in September outlined the high average sales price of parts used in the iPhone 5 and found Lightning represented the biggest jump in component ASP when compared to the iPhone 4S.

Unlike the legacy 30-pin adapters, Lightning is more complex to produce and thus carries a higher price tag. For example, the new connector features an authentication system, a patent of which was discovered by AppleInsider in October.

Lightning Cable Teardown
Lightning cable teardown reveals authentication chip. | Source: Chipworks


As for POP, Siminoff is now trying to find a way to refund the money paid by the 1,000 backers. Edison Junior will also have to eat the loss associated with credit card processing fees and possibly Kickstarter's five percent cut of total sales.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 61
    Kickstarter investors need to remember: crowd sourced venture capital still carries risks. Kickstarter does not guarantee projects will reach fruition.
  • Reply 2 of 61
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,757member


    So, um, why not sell the charging unit with just USB connects so the customer can bring whatever cables they want? Hell, it might be a tidy side business to sell Lightening, 30Pin and MicroUSB cables that are compatible with their cable retraction system. No problem making just cables, right? That would be all that needed Apple's licensing. So, make the cables, with license and sell the unit and cables separately. Permanently attached cables seem like a deal killer for the original design anyway, regardless of Apple's concerns.

  • Reply 3 of 61


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    As for POP, Siminoff is now trying to find a way to refund the money paid by the 1,000 backers. Edison Junior will also have to eat the loss associated with credit card processing fees and possibly Kickstarter's five percent cut of total sales.


     


    Hopefully this will create some actual concern (for once) about the quality and trustworthiness of this "Kickstarter" thing.

  • Reply 4 of 61
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    I'm somewhat appalled that 3rd party products must be lightening only, and can't even incorporate Apple's legacy 30-pin dock connector. That's kind of whack.

    So essentially if a 3rd party vendor wants in, they have to manufacture separate products for each Apple connector, meaning a consumer who buys a product for their iPhone 4, will have to repurchase the device when they upgrade to an iPhone 5.

    Nuts!
  • Reply 5 of 61
    Actually, the solution is simple: swap out the lightning connector for another 30-pin connector and include a lightning adapter for it.
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD823ZM/A/lightning-to-30-pin-adapter?fnode=45
  • Reply 6 of 61
    I don't understand why this would bring a bad light on kick starter. the guy is making a genuine effort top refund his backers money. The only thing it sheds is kick starters deficiency in not having a refund option for such occasions.

    This actually brings a bad light on Apple as they are seen as uncooperative and overly enclosed.
  • Reply 7 of 61
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jbh0001 View Post



    Actually, the solution is simple: swap out the lightning connector for another 30-pin connector and include a lightning adapter for it.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD823ZM/A/lightning-to-30-pin-adapter?fnode=45


     


    I sometimes wonder if the reason Apple has been stalling in supporting 3rd parties in making Lightning accessories is so they can sell even more of those over priced connectors. What percentage of the POPs price would have to be added to pay for that $30 adaptor ($40 if you want one with a 6-inch cable)? I love my Apple products, but not letting a device have connectors for Lightening and Dock is pretty silly.

  • Reply 8 of 61
    This actually brings a bad light on Apple as they are seen as uncooperative and overly enclosed.

    It sucks because the old 30-pin connector was easily licensed. The new Lightning connector... not so much.

    It's kinda like what happened to all the developers who built 3rd-party Twitter clients. Twitter can pull the plug at any time.

    Sometimes it's a gamble to build your business on someone else's back.
  • Reply 9 of 61
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post



    I'm somewhat appalled that 3rd party products must be lightening only, and can't even incorporate Apple's legacy 30-pin dock connector. That's kind of whack.

    So essentially if a 3rd party vendor wants in, they have to manufacture separate products for each Apple connector, meaning a consumer who buys a product for their iPhone 4, will have to repurchase the device when they upgrade to an iPhone 5.

    Nuts!


     


    I don't get your complaint.  It's easy to get upset about this, but it's also pretty easy to see the logic behind it.  It's neither "whack" nor "nuts" IMO.  


     


    Clearly Apple doesn't want to support the old protocol or contribute to anything that will keep it alive.  This is obviously to their advantage and to the advantage of the new protocol.  Lightings adoption speed is based at least in part, on the length of time the old cables and protocols hang around.  Remember there are over ten years worth of old accessories out there.  Supporting 30 pin moving forward would be a bad idea.  

  • Reply 10 of 61
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Michael Scrip View Post





    It sucks because the old 30-pin connector was easily licensed. The new Lightning connector... not so much. ... 


     


    I don't know where you get this idea from.  AFAIK the licensing is pretty much the same in terms of ease of acceptance.  The criteria have changed a bit, so you have to be an honest, moral player in the business world to use it, but that only makes it "hard" if you're some kind of shyster, fly-by-night company, or criminals, etc. 


     


    People are just crying that they can't get *cheap* lightning accessories because the manufacturers can't use toxic chemicals or sub-standard materials to make them or enslave children etc. I would bet that a lot of the same people who whine about Apple using cheap Chinese labour are the same people who don't want to pay for ethically produced accessories.  

  • Reply 11 of 61
    gazoobee wrote: »
    I don't know where you get this idea from.  AFAIK the licensing is pretty much the same in terms of ease of acceptance.  The criteria have changed a bit, so you have to be an honest, moral player in the business world to use it, but that only makes it "hard" if you're some kind of shyster, fly-by-night company, or criminals, etc. 

    People are just crying that they can't get *cheap* lightning accessories because the manufacturers can't use toxic chemicals or sub-standard materials to make them or enslave children etc. I would bet that a lot of the same people who whine about Apple using cheap Chinese labour are the same people who don't want to pay for ethically produced accessories.  

    Good point.
  • Reply 12 of 61
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,613member
    gazoobee wrote: »


    People are just crying that they can't get *cheap* lightning accessories because the manufacturers can't use toxic chemicals or sub-standard materials to make them or enslave children etc. I would bet that a lot of the same people who whine about Apple using cheap Chinese labour are the same people who don't want to pay for ethically produced accessories.  

    Speak for yourself; I already got my $5 lightning cables on eBay shipped from China. It took about two weeks for delivery via China Post, but both of the cables I ordered are sturdy and work fine charging/syncing my and my wife's iPhone 5s. The cables are sturdy and are reversible just like the Apple ones.
  • Reply 13 of 61
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member


    USB port, plug in lightening cable, 30 pin dock, plug in adapter, by the look of things he's charging $139.17 for these things, I'm sure he can afford to eat some of the profit out of what seems an excessively high price.


     


    You can get a digital radio with dock connector and then buy an "overpriced" adapter from Apple for less.

  • Reply 14 of 61


    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    You can get a digital radio with dock connector and then buy an "overpriced" adapter from Apple for less.



     


    Wait, you can't pass through controls or audio for that.

  • Reply 15 of 61
    The 30 pin/lighting connector should be on the same device (for people who might have a iPad and iPhone with the different connectors.
  • Reply 16 of 61

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Hopefully this will create some actual concern (for once) about the quality and trustworthiness of this "Kickstarter" thing.



     


    While none of the projects I've funded have been released, there are ventures that have been launched with Kickstarter. I think the idea is sound, since there are always people willing to participate in crowd sourced funding. However, as I said, there are risks. I don't know if there are any statistics for the percentage of projects that reach their Kickstarter funding goals, only to never deliver the goods for whatever reason.

  • Reply 17 of 61
    Much better to wait for the official Apple Lightning dock in 2015.
  • Reply 18 of 61
    jlandd wrote: »
    Much better to wait for the official Apple Lightning dock in 2015.

    I don't see Apple creating another dock unless it's something unique.
  • Reply 19 of 61
    I'd really wish for Apple to make a dock again. Now that there's no bumper for my 5 I can finally and actually use it, unlike my 4.
  • Reply 20 of 61
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Wait, you can't pass through controls or audio for that.

    Yes you can, I have one I picked up for forty bucks, I used to use it with my iPhone 4, when I got the 5 I also got an adapter, use it every night, about the only inconvenience is the whole thing unplugs and stays attached to the phone.

    If iPod is chosen music starts playing as soon as I plug in.

    It also works with the FM transmitter I have in my car.
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