Tuesday, March 17, 2009

UPDATE - No DRM on Latest iPod Shuffle?

BoingBoing Gadgets  has updated the iPod shuffle DRM'ed headphones story, and are now reporting that although the new shuffle headphones do use a proprietary encoding chip, its role is not one of digital rights management.  

A spokesman for Apple is describing the technology as a 'transmission' or 'control' chip.  However, Apple will still charge a fee (reportedly $1 per chip) to vendors in order to include the chip in their own headphones.  "As part of the Made for iPod program, we make sure that third party headphones work properly with the third generation iPod shuffle," the spokesman said.  "...it's not even authentication. It just gives us a way to control the iPod."  Apple will continue to implement the Made for iPod program, their method of indicating when certain specifications have been met, and implicitly sanctioning iPod accessories.  Of course, the Made for iPod label is only available for those manufactures who have paid the "Apple tax" and have properly licensed products. 

It will be interesting to see whether vendors will able to circumvent the Made for iPod program, and reverse engineer the chip, and whether or not Apple will pursue any legal action against those who do so.  The fact remains that the headphones will require this particular chip to function in use with the new generation shuffle.  This chip, although not encoded with DRM, may ultimately have the same circuitous, negative effect. 

1 comment:

ACorso said...

Circuitous, huh? Sounds rather nebulous...

I don't know that I agree with your appraisal. It may, as Apple reports simply be a matter of compatibility, and a technological necessity. How else could the headphone translate the push of a button into the necessary binary that directs a command.

I also doubt they would even have standing to challenge the permissibility of reverse engineering since the alternate manufacturers would need the technology out of necessity.

Still, I agree it LOOKS shady. Only looks.