Apple lowers MFi & Lightning licensing fees, paving way for more affordable iOS accessories

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 2014
Apple last month again pared back the fees it charges third-parties and accessory makers who wish to manufacture official (MFi) electronic accessories, AirPlay audio accessories, and game controllers that connect to its iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

Controller
Source: Apple's Developer Portal


Though it's unclear by what measure the Cupertino-based company reduced the licensing fees, it's expected that that the reduction will -- in time -- translate to slightly more affordable accessories for the company's various iOS devices. The move could also potentially open the doors to new accessory makers who were previously hesitant to bring their inventions to market under the previous pay structure.

Apple charges the fees as part of its highly-successful MFi, or Made For iPod/iPhone/iPad, program that equips third party manufacturers with authorized hardware components, tools, documentation, technical support, and the ubiquitous Made for iPhone, Made for iPad, and Made for iPod certification logos seen on officially-sanctioned accessories hanging in Apple and other retail stores.

Controller


Originally conceived as "Made for iPod" back in January of 2005, the program initially charged steep fees rumored to have been in the realm of $10 per device, or 10% of the total retail cost of the accessory -- whichever was greater.

Over time, Apple reportedly reduced the cost to between 1.5% and 8% of the total retail price of an item before ultimately settling on a flat $4 per connector fee, with a "Pass-through" connector commanding two of those $4 licensing fees.

At last year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple extended the MFi program to cover a new breed of officially sanctioned iOS game controllers. A handful of these first-to-market game controllers have begun to surface over the past few months with hefty price tags. AppleInsider has reviewed several of them.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,572member
    $4 per connector sounds fair, but Apple seriously need to consider licensing female lightning-port connectors to, at the very least, iPhone case makers. This business of buying a battery case for your iPhone and being forced to used mini-USB is a joke. Get this sorted, Apple, please.
  • Reply 2 of 20
    mknoppmknopp Posts: 257member
    This is good, but from what I have read the high cost of the game controllers has less to do with the licensing fees and more to do with their certification process. They need to review and alter that before their gaming accessories are really going to take off.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    neilmneilm Posts: 598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    $4 per connector sounds fair, but Apple seriously need to consider licensing female lightning-port connectors to, at the very least, iPhone case makers. This business of buying a battery case for your iPhone and being forced to used mini-USB is a joke. Get this sorted, Apple, please.

     

    Do we know that Apple don't license female Lightning connectors? Maybe the accessory manufacturers are simply deciding not to pay the additional licensing fee.

  • Reply 4 of 20
    The market has spoken %u2014 the fees are not reasonable. I used be able to buy extra iPhone 4 charging cables for about five dollars each, and they NEVER failed, no matter what brand I purchased. Today, with the silly authentication chip inside the iPhone cable, EVERY 3rd party cable I've tried has not worked, or only worked for a very short amount of time.
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Regarding the comment about the female lightning connector ... isn't that what's meant by "pass-through" in the article? So a 3rd party wanting to make a lightning extension cable would need to pay $8. I battery pack unit would have to pay $8 as well ... $4 for the male and $4 for the female.

    Unless I've misread the article.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ftaok View Post



    Regarding the comment about the female lightning connector ... isn't that what's meant by "pass-through" in the article? So a 3rd party wanting to make a lightning extension cable would need to pay $8. I battery pack unit would have to pay $8 as well ... $4 for the male and $4 for the female.



    Unless I've misread the article.

    That is what the article states, but I believe the $4 cost they are using is for the old 30 pin connector.  It sounds like they don't know how much the cost for using the lightning connector or creating a game controller is.  I would assume that it would probably work the same way though, if the case manufacturer wanted to put a female lightning port on their product they would have to pay twice, once for the male lightning connector, and once for the female.  It could be that with the old pricing none of the manufacturers thought it was worth paying double to include the female connector, now maybe with the price reduction some will start to.

  • Reply 7 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,572member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

     

    Do we know that Apple don't license female Lightning connectors?


     

    I head recently they were not, hence why all the cases, even the most expensive ones, are mini-USB.

  • Reply 8 of 20

    Since the EU requires mobile devices to be able to use USB connectors, it's possible that the Battery case manufactures are leaving the USB connector in them for compatibility purposes.

  • Reply 9 of 20
    realisticrealistic Posts: 1,138member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    $4 per connector sounds fair, but Apple seriously need to consider licensing female lightning-port connectors to, at the very least, iPhone case makers. This business of buying a battery case for your iPhone and being forced to used mini-USB is a joke. Get this sorted, Apple, please.

    Seems I remember the EU mandates the use of mini-USB in certain products accessories so Apple may not be at fault here. I don'r remember all the details. Wouldn't make financial sense for a 3rd party to make two versions (USA, EU) of the same product.

  • Reply 10 of 20
    mknoppmknopp Posts: 257member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Robert Mark View Post



    The market has spoken %u2014 the fees are not reasonable. I used be able to buy extra iPhone 4 charging cables for about five dollars each, and they NEVER failed, no matter what brand I purchased. Today, with the silly authentication chip inside the iPhone cable, EVERY 3rd party cable I've tried has not worked, or only worked for a very short amount of time.

     

    One of my early lightning cables stopped being recognized, but the ones that I bought from Monoprice a while back haven't had issue one. My rule for lightning cables is pretty much the same as chargers and batteries. You get what you pay for and only buy from trusted manufacturers/retailers.

  • Reply 11 of 20
    irelandireland Posts: 17,572member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Realistic View Post

     

    Seems I remember the EU mandates the use of mini-USB in certain products accessories so Apple may not be at fault here.


     

    Yes, but that mandate would apply to the iPhone, too, no?

  • Reply 12 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,649member
    I am having trouble understanding the business model that has a fee as large as $4 at all. Why charge anything? The bigger the halo of accessories around the iPhone and iPad, the more sales of 30% + margin iPhones and iPads you sell as people remain comfortable in the halo.
    As it is the fee encourages producers to look to other connectivity solutions that cost nothing, and coincidently work with other devices. Thus reducing reasons to buy apple products.

    Also, can't apple have the lightning port do other functions that demonstrate a benefit over micro USB?
  • Reply 13 of 20
    ksecksec Posts: 1,554member
    Still very expensive for Cable. I wish either Apple submit their Lightning Connector as part of the USB Type C design and gain licenses as well as control aspect over it.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post

    I wish either Apple submit their Lightning Connector as part of the USB Type C design

     

    Except it isn’t USB.

  • Reply 15 of 20
    entropys wrote: »
    I am having trouble understanding the business model that has a fee as large as $4 at all. Why charge anything? The bigger the halo of accessories around the iPhone and iPad, the more sales of 30% + margin iPhones and iPads you sell as people remain comfortable in the halo.
    As it is the fee encourages producers to look to other connectivity solutions that cost nothing, and coincidently work with other devices. Thus reducing reasons to buy apple products.

    Also, can't apple have the lightning port do other functions that demonstrate a benefit over micro USB?

    Quality control costs money. Android has no quality control over third party accessories.
  • Reply 16 of 20
    I just bought a Morphe case for $80 from the Apple Store. I hate, hate, hate the MiniUSB connector because it's such a pain to attach and detach - unlike Lighting, which is an absolute delight to use.

    I think it would be fair for the $4 license fee to cover both the in and out connector. $8 is too expensive - it's 10% of the price of the entire case, which seems like a lot to me ...
  • Reply 17 of 20
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,649member
    entropys wrote: »
    I am having trouble understanding the business model that has a fee as large as $4 at all. Why charge anything? The bigger the halo of accessories around the iPhone and iPad, the more sales of 30% + margin iPhones and iPads you sell as people remain comfortable in the halo.
    As it is the fee encourages producers to look to other connectivity solutions that cost nothing, and coincidently work with other devices. Thus reducing reasons to buy apple products.

    Also, can't apple have the lightning port do other functions that demonstrate a benefit over micro USB?

    Quality control costs money. Android has no quality control over third party accessories.

    Leaving aside the fact that $4 from each manufactured device is an expensive form of quality control (more like a license fee) why on earth would Apple want to engage in checking the quality of a Philips stereo dock?
  • Reply 18 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,799member
    I know they're just illustrative and Apple gets no benefit from making them good, but wow, those gamepad drawings are terrible.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Entropys View Post





    Leaving aside the fact that $4 from each manufactured device is an expensive form of quality control (more like a license fee) why on earth would Apple want to engage in checking the quality of a Philips stereo dock?It's not just for 

    It's not just "quality" control but more importantly "compatibility" control. Apple has a very vested interest in making sure any device/connector/accessory attached to their product and riding on their success does not injure or diminish any function of the iDevice. Imagine if some rougue accesory was frying iPhones left and right. Who do you thing would take the blame not to mention absorbing the hit on Goodwill and probably left repairing devices under warranty.

     

    Therefore, Apple has a very extensive "self certification" procedure that must be submitted before any device is MFI approved. It's actually quite impressive how well thought out all their requirements and testing procedures are in spite of the PITA factor.

  • Reply 20 of 20
    You say the fee is 10% of retail price, MacRumors says 10% of wholesale cost. Who is correct???
    http://www.macrumors.com/2014/02/07/lower-mfi-licensing-fees/
Sign In or Register to comment.