The rumors were true; Apple
has indeed popped a new "control chip" within the headphones on its talkative new iPod Shuffle
, and this little inclusion has all manners of panties up in bunches. After a flood of questions surrounding a mysterious chip within the inline remote cropped up over the weekend, a number of third-party Shuffle headphone makers as well as Apple itself (in an atypical move, no doubt) have confirmed that the chip is there, and it does something.
More specifically, iPod-accessory companies V-moda and Scosche independently affirmed that the inline circuity is just a "control chip" and not an "authentication chip" as previously assumed. In the words of Monster Cable's Kevin Lee, there's no DRM in the chip itself: "In fact, it's not even authentication. It just gives us a way to control the iPod." On one hand, that's remarkably good news, but it's still not great for firms looking to produce headphones for the iPod Shuffle, and potentially, all future iPod devices. This is yet another way for Apple to have control over what's made for its heralded devices, undoubtedly falling into the "Made for iPod" program, which gives Apple royalties on certified accessories. If companies attempt to reverse engineer the chip and avoid paying their share to Apple, well, we'll let you guess the rest.
A certain V-Moda representative was even able to elaborate a bit to Macworld
, saying that Apple had actually introduced with the first iPhone and special four-conductor headphone jacks, which could be used to send play / pause and answer / end signals. Essentially, that kind of technology is now wrapped into the Shuffle, but its control system requires special circuitry on the controller end as well, which led to all of this fuss.
Here's a tip to stay distanced from this headache: buy a music player with a screen, and use the headphones you want.