Apple Can Lock Out Any Lightning Cable or Device

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Apple Lightning

According to the New York Times, Apple has a put ID in every batch of Lightning connector chips they send out to accessory manufacturers, allowing the company to recognize Lightning-equipped devices whenever they’re plugged in, block entire batches of accessories with compromised serial numbers on the OS level, potentially lock out devices that used bootleg chips, and assign blame to leaks in the event that a company uses Lighting chips in unauthorized ways.

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.

“If you took this apart and put it in another product and Apple got a hold of it, they’d be able to see it’s from Mophie’s batch of Lightning connectors,” said Ross Howe, vice president of marketing for Mophie.

The real purpose behind Lightning, along with saving space inside the case, is less about locking out knockoff charging cables, and a lot more about controlling who gets to sell in the legitimate marketplace. No one who has millions of dollars in a product is going to risk shipping something with a cloned chip, and given that the chips are patented, no retailer is going to risk becoming party to lawsuits and getting cut off from Apple’s ecosystem.

I usually buy knockoff charging cables of varying quality for my iPhone 4 for about $1-$2 each. Some of them are identical to the real thing, while others break in a day. Given my average lifespan of 8 to 12 months on a cable, and that I usually have four or five stashed at any one time, I’m not enthusiastic about dropping $20 a cable in the future without one heck of a warranty. We’ll see if Apple actually makes good on their lockout potential, or whether — like so many other technologies (probably including used-game blocking on consoles) — it remains a silent deterrent to getting out of line.

Via: [New York Times]

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