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.