Apple's Lightning connector guidelines for 'Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad' detailed by Mophie

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Third-party accessory maker Mophie on Thursday offered some interesting particulars about Apple's MFi initiative as it pertains to the preprietary Lightning connector, saying that the company is going to great lengths to protect its investment in the new I/O protocol.

Lightning
Teardown of Apple's Lightning connector shows authentication chip.


Speaking to The New York Times, Mophie's Vice President of Marketing Ross Howe explained the process third-party manufacturers must go through in order to gain official "MFi" status.

Upon applying for the program, the accessory maker orders a Lightning connector component from Apple which can be used for product design. The supplied connector sports serial numbers and, as first reported by AppleInsider, an embedded authentication chip that can be used tie manufacturers to each component. When an accessory comes in to Apple for testing, the company can quickly reference the serial number or authenticator to see where the Lightning component originated.

?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,? Howe said.

The strict component control allows Apple to keep a tight grip on aftermarket accessory royalties, as well as maintain a consistent user experience. Howe admitted that the Lightning connector can be reverse engineered, but pointed out that the resulting product would most likely be of lesser quality than Apple-approved devices.

?That?s one thing Apple is good at: controlling the user experience from end to end,? he said. ?If you?re buying something in an Apple store, it?s gone through all this rigorous testing.?

Further, the control measures give Apple the power to issue software updates that would disable the use of unauthorized products.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    The supplied connector sports serial numbers and, as first reported by AppleInsider, an embedded authentication chip that can be used tie manufacturers to each component. When an accessory comes in to Apple for testing, the company can quickly reference the serial number or authenticator to see where the Lightning component originated.

    That doesn't sound like it's authenticating anything, just identifying the 3rd party vendor. It sounds like it does nothing more than what an unprotected SIM card would do.
  • Reply 2 of 34


    I find this to be a bit odd. What possible reason could be there to not want to bring in as many accessory makers as possible from around the world, which would only serve to expand and consolidate an already-impressive ecosystem?


     


    What earthly reason could Apple have, to be so ****-retentive about this?!

  • Reply 3 of 34
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Luckily, working conditions can be protected, quality can be assured, AND we can still have cheap, officially licensed cables (Monoprice)!
  • Reply 4 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post





    That doesn't sound like it's authenticating anything, just identifying the 3rd party vendor. It sounds like it does nothing more than what an unprotected SIM card would do.


     


    It sounds like the authentication chip would have a serial number which Apple could disable at any time.

  • Reply 5 of 34
    Anan, no one is saying they are restricting whoever wants to be included. Its obvious they are controlling quality, as well as protecting their royalties. Sounds pretty simple to me.
  • Reply 6 of 34


    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    What earthly reason could Apple have, to be so ****-retentive about this?!





    Same reason they don't allow Macintosh clones anymore…


     


    It's Apple's port and Apple's ecosystem that will suffer from the use of shoddy third-party equipment. Yes, the third party in question will have its reputation shot by making said shoddy equipment, but Apple appears to be attempting to remove as much of the ripple effect (which always leads back to "it's Apple's fault") from that as they can. 

  • Reply 7 of 34
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,800member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    I find this to be a bit odd. What possible reason could be there to not want to bring in as many accessory makers as possible from around the world, which would only serve to expand and consolidate an already-impressive ecosystem?


     


    What earthly reason could Apple have, to be so ****-retentive about this?!



     


    to prevent crap accessories from interacting with the idevice. How many times have you bought a third party product and realized it was pure crap. Not all third parties are created equal.

  • Reply 8 of 34
    This time, I think Apple went too far. For example, Mophie (and others) aren't allowed to put female Lightning ports on any device. I just purchased a Mophie Helium battery case for my iPhone 5. It's perfect in every way, except due to Apple's stringent controls, it can't work as well as the battery cases for older iPhones.

    The problem is that because it can't have a female Lightning port:
    1) I have to take the bottom of the case off (which disconnects the battery) in order to plug it in using a Lightning cable. That means carrying around multiple cables for different iOS devices.

    2) It won't do data or audio when plugged in via the MicroUSB port. It will only charge.

    This is all really messed up. I would've rather taken my chances with 3rd party cables. I never had any problems with bad 3rd party 30-pin cables, certified or not. Now though, we're guaranteed to have problems by design with certified Lightning products.

    Grrr...
  • Reply 9 of 34
    It just charges the battery, why be so restrictive?!
  • Reply 10 of 34
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    alphafox wrote: »
    It just charges the battery, why be so restrictive?!

    Lightning does far more than "just charge the battery."
  • Reply 11 of 34
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    I find this to be a bit odd. What possible reason could be there to not want to bring in as many accessory makers as possible from around the world, which would only serve to expand and consolidate an already-impressive ecosystem?


     


    What earthly reason could Apple have, to be so ****-retentive about this?!



     


    Um .. the customer?  image


     


    They are attempting to make sure that the products are all made ethically.  Period.  


     


    I don't get why anyone sees anything wrong with that or why it could ever be a bad thing.  The world would be a much better place if *all* companies did this.  


     


    In fact, the world would be a far better place if even a fraction of the companies that exist even went 20% as far as Apple does in making sure they are behaving in an ethical manner.  

  • Reply 12 of 34
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rkevwill View Post



    Anan, no one is saying they are restricting whoever wants to be included. Its obvious they are controlling quality, as well as protecting their royalties. Sounds pretty simple to me.


     


    I agree except I think it's a leap to say that they are doing it to "protect royalties."  There isn't really any evidence of that and the reason they are doing what they are doing is already explained by the "controlling quality" part.  


     


    Occam's razor says that no further explanation is necessary. 


     


    I would say "controlling quality and ethical manufacturing," but they are almost the same thing in that both fall under "making a good product."

  • Reply 13 of 34
    I suspect it also has something to do with people who sue Apple for fire caused by bad connector.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member


    Apple completely and totally screwed this up.  It is annoying.  The fact that they didnt hold a meeting about how to be a licensed 3rd party accessory maker until over a month after release?  Ridiculous.  The fact they didn't get a handful of those makers, and let them start developing so accessories could be out a month or so after release?  Ridiculous.  It's not like lightning was some insane invention that would have blown the launch of the 5.


     


    I still can't buy a dock off of Amazon- over 5 months after release.  No radio dock.  One (JBL) speaker dock that just got released a week ago or so.  No charging dock (one that isn't just a stand you use your own cord on).  It is beyond the point of ridiculous now.

  • Reply 15 of 34
    blah64blah64 Posts: 986member




    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    I find this to be a bit odd. What possible reason could be there to not want to bring in as many accessory makers as possible from around the world, which would only serve to expand and consolidate an already-impressive ecosystem?


     


    What earthly reason could Apple have, to be so ****-retentive about this?!







    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post


    to prevent crap accessories from interacting with the idevice. How many times have you bought a third party product and realized it was pure crap. Not all third parties are created equal.



     


    Not 20 minutes ago, I just threw away a crappy 3rd party video adapter (mini-displayport --> HDMI), because it just flat out doesn't work. That'll teach me to try to save a few bucks buying via craigslist.  Yeah, Apple products, including cables, really are better than cheap, off-brand crap.


     


    Edit: I guess this is a little different issue from Apple's strategic decisions around Lightning, but the timing of reading this right after tossing that cable in the garbage was impeccable. 

  • Reply 16 of 34

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blah64 View Post


     


    Not 20 minutes ago, I just threw away a crappy 3rd party video adapter (mini-displayport --> HDMI), because it just flat out doesn't work. That'll teach me to try to save a few bucks buying via craigslist.  



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    It's Apple's port and Apple's ecosystem that will suffer from the use of shoddy third-party equipment. 



     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post


     


    to prevent crap accessories from interacting with the idevice. How many times have you bought a third party product and realized it was pure crap. Not all third parties are created equal.



    That's totally lame. Considering that Apple provides access to said crapware via USB, HDMI, Thunderbolt.....


     


    Why don't they lock everything down, then?

  • Reply 17 of 34
    Apple is on the hook to stand by their warranty. I can't imagine they want situations where customers used unauthorized accessories and damaged the Apple product. It would come down to the customers word, and Apple is known for giving customers the benefit of the doubt. This is my theory why they are so strict with the lockdown.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,800member

    That's totally lame. Considering that Apple provides access to said crapware via USB, HDMI, Thunderbolt.....

    Why don't they lock everything down, then?

    1. Macs and iDevices are different
    2. The avg consumer will buy an accessory for an iDevice. The average consumer will stick with the mouse/keyboard that came with the Mac and use the free camera USB cable.
    3. They don't control USB or hdmi.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    macslut wrote: »
    I would've rather taken my chances with 3rd party cables. I never had any problems with bad 3rd party 30-pin cables, certified or not. Now though, we're guaranteed to have problems by design with certified Lightning products.

    Same here. No issues ever with third party dock connector cables. My $3 un-certified lightning connectors are rock solid too.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,949member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Lightning does far more than "just charge the battery."

    And frankly, micro USB just isn't as rugged of a connector as Lightning. I think the typical current to charge a phone typically exceeds what the USB standard recommends for the connector. It'll work most of the time, but you're talking amps through tiny pins not originally designed for it.

    bsenka wrote: »
    Same here. No issues ever with third party dock connector cables. My $3 un-certified lightning connectors are rock solid too.

    I bought many cheap dock cables that were certainly not qualified. Half the time, they don't charge an iPad and they fell apart or failed quickly anyway.
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