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.