Pulling back the curtain on Apple's Lightning connector licensing program

Way back in our iPhone 5 review, iMore mentioned new restrictions Apple had put in place for their new Lightning connector licensing program. Now, thanks to iOS device accessory maker mophie, even more information has come to light. Ross Howe, vice-president of market for mophie, spoke with Brian X. Chen of the New York Times and revealed:

When a hardware maker signs up with Apple’s MFi Program, for companies that make accessories for Apple products, it orders a Lightning connector component from Apple to use in designing the accessory. The connectors have serial numbers for each accessory maker, and they contain authentication chips that communicate with the phones. When the company submits its accessory to Apple for testing, Apple can recognize the serial number.

While the chip can be, and is being, reverse engineered, Apple could also theoretically issue software updates that would disable Lightning products that did not use authentic chips.

In controlling Lightning products in the way, Apple also has some control over the quality of such products. Apple’s policies with these accessories ensure that the market isn’t flooded with cheap knock-off products that could potentially damage the Lightning, and thus Apple, brand.

The most take away is that Apple wants the best possible user experience with its devices, and by exerting some control over third-party hardware, they make sure that customers have the best experience however they use their devices.

Source: New York Times