AAPL Stock: 117.81 ( -0.22 )

Printed from

Apple takes flak for iPod shuffle hardware limits

updated 01:40 pm EDT, Mon March 16, 2009

EFF attacks iPod shuffle

Apple is headed in the wrong direction with the redesigned iPod shuffle, claims the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The public advocacy group notes that while Apple has mostly disposed of DRM in terms of music files, it has effectively added more by limiting which audio hardware can connect to the player's headphone jack. If not used with official Apple earbuds, the player will require an adapter or officially-sanctioned third-party headphones.

It would not be as much of issue, reports allege, if Apple had not decided to embed an "authentication chip" in its earbuds, creating a legal obstacle to reverse engineering. Apple could in theory charge third-party companies under the DMCA for bypassing a license; iLounge and the EFF describe a potential "nightmare scenario," under which every part of iPod ownership is controlled by Apple in order to reap profits and force a continual upgrade process. The situation would be considered intolerable if companies like Microsoft or Ford attempted the same thing, says the EFF's Fred von Lohmann.

Apple defends its technology as an improvement over earlier iPod earbuds, offering extra controls. This excludes even some of the company's previous remote-controlled earbuds however, which may be limited to one button instead of the three needed for the Shuffle. The Earphones with Remote and Mic and In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic are known to be compatible.

by MacNN Staff



  1. eddd

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's the shuffle... the b****** child of the iPod line. Who really cares about this tiny part of the market? Apple will learn a lesson when it doesn't sell. Not because of the chip, but because of the concept - the inline controls are just too cumbersome to deal with.

    Except in Japan. This will be big in Japan.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. lysolman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple will learn a lesson when they have to replace a shuffle owners headphones every two months because the remote buttons on the headset wear out.

    And they wear out with occasional use, imagine if you have to use it 24/7 just to control the device!

    The reason Apple doesn't get called on stuff like this the way Ford and Microsoft would is because Apple makes a product that actually works well. When Microsoft and Ford do it, it's a piece of s***. BTW, you're f****** retarded if you buy a Ford (or Windows for that matter)

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Best way

    The best way to get your point across about how you like or dislike a product is to buy it if you like it, don't buy it if you don't...

    A Cupertino Tea Party won't do much here.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Audio quality too...

    ...may be a reasonable proposition with the number of disappointing 3rd party options & the possibility of custom equalization for a specific headphone & perhaps even various ear canal resonances reflecting adapter sizes - this might be of benefit especially with the celebrated apple in ear model under $100, which I gather have had rave reviews... For me ensuring the sound quality would seem both challenging & critical to a good user experience...

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Audio quality

    Yes, this is all about Apple making sure the audio quality is up-to-snuff...

    And what you're saying is that I can no longer use crappy $15 best buy headphones for when I go out walking with this thing?

    The main reason to get a shuffle is you want a light and easy to carry device to use while "on-the-go". Apple is now saying who can use it and with what audio equipment.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Re: Audio quality...

    ...the shuffle now supports lossless format - perhaps easy to lose this in the details however if the circuitry can indeed produce audiophile sound this would seem a major upgrade irrespective of interface issues...?

  1. bdougal

    Joined: Dec 1969


    News Flash!

    Apple takes flak upon announcing something.
    In other news, water discovered to be wet, sky to be blue.

  1. ibugv4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Welcome to Apple 3.0

    DRM in your earbuds
    Batteries that can't be removed.

    So glad I'm not as tied into this c*** as I once was :)

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969



    To read all these comments from morons who are always looking for another excuse to bash on Apple - particularly when they have nary a clue.

    The reason why Apple is embedding authentication chips in their peripherals is right in your face -- hundreds of Chinese rip-off companies making fake iPod and iPhone headphones for $2-$5 each. Pretty good copies too (I picked some up yesterday at an electronics market in Bangkok), but in the end, these are flooding the market, and with more resellers picking these up without thoughts (even in the US), it is more cost effective for Apple to simply integrate an authentication conduit in their products, than pursue nebulous manufacturers, and unscrupulous resellers.

    Apple's primary concern is to maintain the chain of quality of their products, as many would agree that the Apple headphones (particularly the new in-hear headphones, for example) sound infinitely better than the cheap Chinese $2 knock-offs, at least for music (for voice communication, it probably doesn't matter).

    I do love comments like the ones from 'eddd', predicting how the shuffle will sell terribly or not at all, simply because of something HE does not like. Funny. Listen, the new shuffle will outsell the old shuffle, because it offers twice the capacity, and better quality, and is even smaller, at the same price. Get ready to eat crow.

  1. tsmelker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bunch of whiners...

    Here we go again- "We're gonna whine like babies again because Apple came out with yet another cool product that we didn't think of first." You can tell how great a company/product is by the amount of naysayers and armchair critics there are.

    Here's a novel approach: if you don't like a product or it doesn't suit your needs, shut the **** up and choose a different product- like a Zune.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented