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Shuffle's new hardware DRM taxes 3rd-party vendors

updated 08:20 pm EDT, Sat March 14, 2009

Shuffle has DRM issues

Apple's new iPod Shuffle has added a new layer of hardware DRM, possibly preventing third-party companies from reverse-engineering the Shuffle technology in order to build headphones. Electronic Frontier and iLounge have discovered an Apple authentication chip DRM (Digital Right Management) requirement that will mean third-party headphone makers will have to pay fees for the authentication chip and design headphones with the chip included. The authentication chip provides a legal means to prevent headphone makers from reverse-engineering the Shuffle output to create a set of headphones that work with the new iPod. Apple could sue any companies that attempted such an effort for DCMA violations.

iLounge




by MacNN Staff

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  1. chas_m

    Joined:

    -6

    Wildly speculative

    and irresponsible (not MacNN -- they're just repeating iLounge's tripe).

    It is par for the course -- not just with Apple but with all electronics companies -- to license their proprietary/patented designs. Hello, Firewire anybody?

    Why shouldn't Apple make some money off this design? Does anyone with half a brain think third-party companies (several of which have already announced 3G shuffle compatible headphones) won't pay the modest licensing fee in order to make buckets of bucks? Give me a freakin' break! The iPod accessory industry is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise! Why shouldn't Apple get a piece of that?

    Unless you can prove that Apple's sole intent is to force everyone to use Apple's earphones, you're skating awfully close to libel here, kids.

  1. chas_m

    Joined:

    -5

    Wildly speculative

    and irresponsible (not MacNN -- they're just repeating iLounge's tripe).

    It is par for the course -- not just with Apple but with all electronics companies -- to license their proprietary/patented designs. Hello, Firewire anybody?

    Why shouldn't Apple make some money off this design? Does anyone with half a brain think third-party companies (several of which have already announced 3G shuffle compatible headphones) won't pay the modest licensing fee in order to make buckets of bucks? Give me a freakin' break! The iPod accessory industry is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise! Why shouldn't Apple get a piece of that? It's called capitalism, folks, and in hard times Apple might need to monetise themselves a bit more to keep from being taken over. This won't be the last of it, I'm sure.

    But nless you can prove that Apple's sole intent is to force everyone to use Apple's earphones, you're skating awfully close to libel here, kids. A simple phone call to an Apple PR rep asking about freedom of headphone choice would have AT LEAST provided some balance.

    This is what I hate about tech journalism -- it's as bad as "financial journalism" when it comes to allowing unbalanced speculation to pass as news.

  1. revco

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    real one piece

    Why not just make the headphones hardwired of the Shuffle. Do away with the jack.

  1. opiapr

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    Classic fanboy

    @ chas_m Their is people that will always agree with their idols and apple have a lot of them. Isn't this remind you of the Lexmark case...

  1. henryblackman

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -5

    It's called business

    @opiapr This has nothing to do with the Lexmark case. Lexmark (and others!) use technology to prevent ANYONE from creating, or reusing, ink cartridges except for them. Apple are using technology to ensure that no one can create peripherals/accessories without getting their blessing - which means doing it right.

    Look at all the issues with the removal of Firewire charging from iPods and iPhones. This is all caused by other companies refusing to stick to Apple's instructions. Granted it's still annoying, but if they had followed Apple's instructions, we'd be OK.

  1. dogzilla

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Research first!

    MacNN has a recurring problem with fact-checking. Is it that the interns are running the show on weekends? There is no proof that the chip is in fact a DRM chip, nor that Apple will require third-party vendors to pay a license to be compatible.

    I'm not saying it's likely nor unlikely that Apple will do this - that would be speculative and useless. What I am saying is that we DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE SITUATION IS YET. Therefore, it is irresponsible of a news/rumor/random bullshit site (whatever MacNN considers itself these days) to post as fact something for which there is no proof - even (especially) if that something isn't even original reporting but just something they read on another web site.

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    iLounge needs to be clear

    They mention the authentication chip, but where did they get this info? They quote no source, offer no proof, show no teardowns or identify the chip. Is it in the headphones or the Shuffle? And by the way, even if the chip has to be there, how is this any different from requiring proper engineering of other critical hardware? How much blown hardware have we all seen from wrong power supplies, trashed by wrong connectors, A-A usb cables, etc... Not nearly enough info. But out come the torches and pitchforks by both iLounge and EFF.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -2

    Never Assume...

    ... that what you read in some blog post is true.

    I'm neither defending nor condemning Apple on this, until we get some kind of definitive answer on this rumor. It seems that Apple may simply be trying to guarantee a good "officially sanctioned user experience" for their customers. This is why Apple started the "Made for iPod" program, also to make more money on licensing fees, of course.

    All it takes is a few people who have a bad experience to start howling.

    I've read that Apple will be selling their own shuffle control cable with an open headphone jack for ANY headphone to use.

    I'd guess that the authentication chip would be for headphone manufacturers who want to build a headphone with their own controller built into the cable. Again, Apple trying to guarantee a good user experience.

  1. Eriamjh

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    There is no chip...

    It is likely just shorts between wires to get each function and possibly resistance. It is not likely that there is any communication occurring.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    NO DRM (story is FUD)

    Here is the standard headphone that comes with the Apple iPod Shuffle.
    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MB770G/A?fnode=MTY1NDA3NA&mco=MTcyODIwOQ

    No DRM because iPod touch has no such drm chip and there is NO point to add any drm to the cheap iPod which will drive up its cost.

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