Editorial: iLounge’s Editor, On Apple Authentication and Punishment | iLounge Article


Editorial: iLounge’s Editor, On Apple Authentication and Punishment

We try not to bury the most important parts of our reviews several pages deep, but what unexpectedly attracted the most attention in our review of the third-generation iPod shuffle was in the middle of page seven: a brief discussion of the authentication technology that Apple has added to the new shuffle, and to its headphones.

Under normal circumstances, we’d leave this information to speak for itself, but we’ve received inquiries from a number of publications and wanted to answer them. As we previously noted, there is an authentication chip inside the new shuffle’s headphones, specifically within the remote control housing. If you need to see a picture for yourself, Boing Boing Gadgets cracked the earphones open and snapped a shot. From what we were told, Apple offered to sell developers the chip for $1 in a bundle with a $2 microphone, costs which are then multiplied and passed on to consumers. The component costs are now apparently lower. There are also authentication chips inside the new Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic, and the In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic—the ones that you may recall were delayed last year for mysterious reasons.

If you’d like to hear the shuffle sending authentication signals, you can download this recording (right click to save), or if you have a shuffle, connect it to either a sensitive pair of earphones or a computer’s audio port, then switch the power on. The signaling appears right before the music starts to play; it is a handshake, which if successful, can be followed by the exchange of control-signaling data.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation picked up on the authentication reference in our review and declared it to be “DRM,” a term which broadly “refers to access control technologies used by publishers, copyright holders, and hardware manufacturers to limit usage of digital media or devices,” as Wikipedia defines it. For the time being, we’re not going to weigh in on whether or not authentication of the sort Apple is using here actually constitutes DRM. The point we were making in the review was this: if you want a pair of headphones that will work to control the new iPod shuffle, you will now have to buy something that Apple either makes itself, or approves—this process has already led to needlessly overpriced video cables and chargers, as well as creating problems for many additional types of accessories that you may or may not have ever heard of. We speak, and listen, to all the major players in this industry; the stories we hear off the record would shock most people.

In its article, the EFF also asked a very insightful question:

“Why have so many of the reviews of iPods failed to notice the proliferation of these Apple ‘authentication chips’? If it were Microsoft… I’d think reviewers would be screaming about it.”

Our belief is this: it’s not that reviewers have failed to notice, but that they’ve been cowed into silence. After going after “Apple rumor sites” without success, only belatedly figuring out that the constant buzz they generated was helping the company more than hurting it, Apple has now decided to “punish” buzzkillers—journalists who the company doesn’t consider friendly enough to its marketing mission. And by “punish,” we mean to say that this specific word is used to refer to what happens if someone has said something Apple doesn’t approve of. Amongst the topics on the forbidden list: specifics of the Made For iPod and Works With iPhone licensing programs, its undisclosed and unexplained lock-down of video accessories, that bizarre “we have to charge now for software updates” policy, defective products, and so on. The more one talks about such things, the more likely punishment becomes; our first “punishment” was over this little ditty that spread all across the Internet. Multiple Apple sources confirmed this to us, on the record and without any caveats at a trade show, but we shouldn’t have discussed it. Riii-ght.

The passive side of “punishment” is denial of access: during a period of punishment, Apple mightn’t allow “punished” journalists to come to its events, or respond to their e-mails. The active side of punishment is similarly charming: Apple gives sunnier competitors advantages by supplying them with new hardware before it arrives in stores, and offers them exclusive or semi-exclusive interviews with Apple executives. Thankfully, there are some other securities laws regarding selective disclosure of material information that the company’s forced to follow, so the interviews are generally unimportant, but that’s another story.

Believe it or not, at some point late last year, we were told specifically that the company was going to be pursuing a “fanboys only” approach—buttering up publications that basically accepted and reprinted the company’s statements with little to no challenge. You can probably guess which ones we’re talking about: they’re the ones that have become the company’s unofficial mouthpieces in recent years, either glossing over or praising its least praiseworthy actions, as well as showering all sorts of attention on expensive new Apple products that they would never have purchased on their own for testing. We’ve made clear to Apple that we’re not willing to compromise the integrity of our editorial for preferential treatment, or even plain access. Silly us.

Thus, thanks to our refusal to be leashed by Apple, you won’t see us at the iPhone software event tomorrow; we’re being “punished” for not sugar-coating our words enough. That’s not our style. Like most of our readers, we’re just customers, albeit pretty serious customers—every time you see an iPod or iPhone reviewed on iLounge, we’ve bought it (or, say, eleven of it) ourselves. Our writers hold no Apple stock or interest in how that stock performs; we’re just here to provide you with facts and our informed opinions. Apple’s upset because we’ve been telling our readers too much—and constantly taking your side, rather than Apple’s, whenever the company is in the wrong. We do this proudly. And we’re not going to apologize for it.

So, to the EFF and any others who might be wondering why we report on topics like authentication when other people don’t—even when apologist morons like this guy claim that we’re just making it up for hits—the reason is simple. We’re not here to hype or justify everything Apple does. We’re also not using Apple’s decisions or omissions to try and drum up traffic for the site; as noted, that authentication section was indeed buried on the seventh page of a nine-page review. Our mission is to get good, solid information out there—both facts and well-informed opinions on new Apple products and related third-party offerings, issuing praise for whatever deserves praise, and criticism for whatever merits critique, without regard to anything but the products and services we’re covering. That includes behind-the-scenes stuff like this with Apple—it’s unfortunate, but it’s not going to affect our coverage.

For that reason, regardless of whether we remain “punished” or whatever else happens, we’re going keep doing what we do: offering objective, honest analysis, and comprehensive reviews of Apple’s products. To do anything else would be to give in to a form of manipulation that benefits no one—ultimately, not even Apple, which has grown as much over the years by listening to its reasonable critics as it has from catering to its most devoted customers. Often, as is the case with us, those people are one and the same.

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

Jeremy Horwitz, Editor-in-Chief, iLounge

[Editor’s Note: Either coincident with or immediately subsequent to publication of this article, Apple confirmed to Boing Boing Gadgets that the iPod shuffle contains what it is referring to as a “control chip” that it is selling and licensing under the Made For iPod program. Past accounts of the Made For iPod program have suggested that licensees are limited or prohibited from trying to circumvent the program by using unlicensed parts to make accessories, however, it is presently unclear whether these terms also apply to the new control chip.]

[Editor’s Note 2: For those who may be interested in additional electronic and business details regarding the chip, we have posted a new article discussing how it operates, as well as several of the business consequences of acquiring it.]

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Fight the good fight, iLounge!

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on March 16, 2009 at 4:40 PM (CDT)


I could talk about my views on this whole chip thing, but what I really want to say is thanks for writing what you feel is right. Though I love my Apple products that doesn’t mean the company is above questioning, and doesn’t do anything wrong. I read iLounge for it’s impartial, and not watered down reviews. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Posted by iHarley on March 16, 2009 at 4:41 PM (CDT)


If the cost of this chip is <$1 I don’t see it as that big of a deal, especially for Apple.  They always have wanted complete control over how their hardware is used.

Not saying Apple is 100% right here, but I think we need to wait and see what happens over the next month or so. I think the EFF jumped on this story a bit quick.

Posted by Justin on March 16, 2009 at 4:42 PM (CDT)


Has anybody reverse engineered the controller chip to see what it actually does? Does it do any “authentication”? Or is it needed to send signals down the wire from the three switches that are on the controller?

Posted by klasseng on March 16, 2009 at 4:57 PM (CDT)


Thank you so very much for this article Jeremy! I really applaud the fact that this website does not cave in to the pressure of becoming another biased Apple news source (AppleInsider being the most biased of them all). I think your reviews are objective and I have found that this website is the best in terms of iPod reviews that look at what consumers want in their products, not just what Apple deceives us with its marketing. Keep up the good work!

Posted by Phil on March 16, 2009 at 5:01 PM (CDT)


Thanks for publishing this piece.  Apple’s affinity for chips in iPod accessories has always been suspicious, and this latest development doesn’t reassure me that they have consumers’ best interests at heart.  So thank you iLounge for standing with us.

Posted by Khalila on March 16, 2009 at 5:02 PM (CDT)


@klasseng Not from what I’ve read.  That’s why I think iLounge bringing this to everyone’s attention was a good thing, but the EFF jumping on board so quickly was a mistake in my opinion.  So if you are an Apple hater or fanboy think it’s best to see what happens over the next 4 weeks before ranting.

Posted by Justin on March 16, 2009 at 5:03 PM (CDT)


I’ve written to Apple customer service saying that unbiased, honest reviews are far more likely to make me buy anything than carefully managed marketing information. Keep up the good work iLounge.

Posted by Chris Curtis on March 16, 2009 at 5:27 PM (CDT)


From Macrumors (macrumors.com/2009/03/16/no-drm-in-headphones-for-new-ipod-shuffle):

Macworld, however, contacted an Apple spokesman about the matter. While the spokesman confirmed the existence of the chip, its intended purpose is said to be related to the “Made for iPod” program alone. Boing Boing Gadgets was also able to speak with Apple and received what is so far the clearest explanation regarding whether the chip contains DRM:

Just spoke with Apple. There is no encryption or authentication on the chip, so clones could conceivably be made, just not with “Made for iPod” official certification. And now we know!

Posted by Justin on March 16, 2009 at 5:40 PM (CDT)


Justin: Macrumors has updated their story, however, the text above is not really an accurate summary, particularly the part around the word “alone.”

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 16, 2009 at 6:02 PM (CDT)


Great article, though now we’ll all be keeping a watchful eye on those who DID get invites to tomorrow’s event!

“You will atone, Mr. Beale”! ;)

Posted by Paul on March 16, 2009 at 6:17 PM (CDT)


OK, so if this is the “worst iPod ever”, as you’ve called it, we can expect it not to sell very well and will thus be replaced by Apple with something that will sell better.

Also, why on earth should Apple have “consumers’ interests at heart”, as stated by one of the commentators? They’re in the business of making money, pure and simple. If they think they sell the iPod shuffle and its super-expensive accessories, then they will make it and offer it for sale. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. Very simple.

Posted by Bob on March 16, 2009 at 6:28 PM (CDT)


@Jeremy Yeah, they updated it after I posted that. I’m still in wait and see mode, but I have a feeling this isn’t going to be a big deal in the end.

Posted by Justin on March 16, 2009 at 6:42 PM (CDT)


Wow, all this “backroom” stuff is crazy.  Glad to hear that iLounge is standing its ground as an impartial and trusted reporter.  It truly paints a different impression of Apple than we on the outside every see.  This just confirms my appreciation for all iLounge does for those of us that are interested in iPhones, iPods, and associated accessories.  Keep up the good work.

Posted by TosaDeac on March 16, 2009 at 6:45 PM (CDT)


Wow.  That’s a long way to keep digging when you’re already in the hole.  Apple has discovered a neat way of controlling an iPod from the headphones alone.  That’s worth a patent, son.  They are within their rights to require others to license it.  It’s not DRM, it’s not mind control, it’s not 1984, it’s not draconian, no one is going to be scarred by this.  Considering people pay upwards of $100 for aftermarket iPod headphones, this $1 or $2 add on is a non issue.  Man up and admit this past weekend was an exercise in silliness.

Posted by JP on March 16, 2009 at 7:09 PM (CDT)


I appreciate the reviews and presentation of information on iLounge.

Now that more facts have come out about the controller chip in the iPod Shuffle headset cord, it seems that to label the chip as an “authentication chip” or “DRM” was premature.

I don’t like some of the things that Apple does (like lock my iPhone to my carrier). But a lot of the things Apple does is because the are forced to by partner contracts and the rights of others. I don’t think Rogers in Canada would carry the iPhone if it weren’t locked to them. It happens in every country that doesn’t have laws expressly prohibiting lock-in. On the other hand I appreciate the measures that Apple takes to secure my iPhone.

It seems to me that most of Apple’s actions are in protection of revenue and profit. They don’t seem to take action against individuals that mess around with their products (hardware or software). But get organized and try to make a buck off of it by setting up parasitic ecosystems, Apple’s lawyers will come a knocking!


Posted by klasseng on March 16, 2009 at 7:18 PM (CDT)


#15/#16: We never called it DRM. It is an authentication chip, and even Apple’s licensees were calling it an authentication chip as recently as today. Apple’s referral to it as a control chip is merely an issue of semantics, and one intended to distract from the core issue that it is now requiring purchase of Apple parts in order to make Apple-licensed headphones.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 16, 2009 at 7:38 PM (CDT)


I find the “authentification/control” chip issue itself of secondary importance in this story. What galls me is how Apple is treating those with whom they are currently unhappy. Keep holding their feet to the fire, Jeremy. Fanboy websites are plentiful. Useful, informative websites are few.

Posted by rebo on March 16, 2009 at 8:16 PM (CDT)


I haven’t posted in forever, but I just wanted to chime in to say a simple “thanks.”

Posted by GeekyGirl on March 16, 2009 at 8:25 PM (CDT)


No iLounge coverage of the iPhone OS 3.0 event? Blah… thats too bad.

Posted by Graeme Smith on March 16, 2009 at 8:43 PM (CDT)


I’m all for fighting the good fight, but that’s a pretty strong claim to make (that Apple is punishing journalists who don’t drink the kool aid) - do you have anything to back up that claim other than your own experience? If this is as wide spread as it seems, surely other sites would have made noise about these tactics before now?

Posted by Tony Arnold on March 16, 2009 at 10:05 PM (CDT)


Agree with #18: I think the actual heart of the matter is much clearer, now that you have chosen to speak out about Apple’s treatment of journalists. I think that’s that’s the serious part, and not the “authentication” chip per se. So thank you for the article and your position on the matter.

I personally find it more than a little silly for a bunch of internet journalists to be in uproar over the chip—it is after all something you have alluded to on the site more than a few weeks back, and I think most regular readers would’ve caught that. Baaaad journalism on certain people’s parts (not iLounge of course).

Posted by Leon, formerly of Buffalo NY on March 16, 2009 at 10:33 PM (CDT)


Many thanks to all of you for your comments.

#21: Yes, we do. That said, we’re neither going to speak for other journalists, nor attempt to further justify ourselves on this point, but it suffices to say that we’re speaking out on our own behalf. If other people choose to do so on their own, that’s up to them.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 16, 2009 at 10:49 PM (CDT)


All jokes aside, the ‘controller’ chip isn’t that big a deal if we take a moment and consider exactly what this new iPod shuffle really is - an Oakley ‘Thumps’ sans the sunglasses. How easy does Oakley make it for third parties to provide swappable earbuds for their player?

The issue is that there’s no way to control the device without a pair of Apple-approved earbuds. Yes it stinks, but as long as the pack-in buds are covered under the same warranty…

Don’t sweat your ‘punishment’, iLounge. You guys got where you are by providing a valuable service to iPod customers, not by sucking up to Apple. You guys save their support forums a lot of bandwidth!

Posted by Paul on March 16, 2009 at 10:57 PM (CDT)


This would have never happened if Steve Jobs was still working there! Heads will roll on his first day back!

Posted by maxiewawa on March 17, 2009 at 12:09 AM (CDT)


This is why iLounge is the best site for iPod and Apple related news.  I’ve been coming here since I bought my first iPod.  I value an honest, unbiased opinion.  The user should decide what he or she wants, not Apple nor the writer.  Forcing writers to publish favorable stories when they would otherwise not is unethical.  I understand wanting to get the best message out their for your product but the best way to do so is create a superior product, not bribe the reviewer.  Apple is aware of all short comings of their products before they’re released.  Be honest enough to allow those short comings to be honestly critiqued and if the consumer still wants the product then so be it.  Behavior like this is no better then what Apple accuses Microsoft of doing.  This is very “PC” like Apple, what a shame.

Posted by Malcolm on March 17, 2009 at 12:26 AM (CDT)


I believe the consumers who are whining about the Apple “authentication chip” are those who have a serious sore spot for anything that even slightly resembles DRM, after getting F’d in the A for years through Apple’s ridiculously popular iTunes music store.

However, from a technical perspective, DIYers like myself whine about this “authentication” scheme. It’s not because we can’t make it work without the silly microcontroller, but because I can’t go buy a 30-pin JAE connector from my neighborhood electronics vendor, solder some wires onto it and build myself a serial link or whatever without that absurd notice popping up on my iPhone 3G: “This accessory wasn’t designed for iPhone”. I seriously don’t want to spend weeks coding and debugging a silly one-wire serial bus just so I can make that silly notification go away, and I certainly don’t want to spend over $80 to replace my FM transmitter with one that has the “authentication” microcontroller in it (and there’s no guarantee they put a 217Hz GSM buzz notch filter in it, either).

I don’t have a new Shuffle, nor will I buy one. I do agree that Apple has created a masterpiece of tiny engineering, but they built it for a very small niche market. They need to understand that though they can’t please everyone, they should at least try pleasing more than the eight people who will buy one of these and actually like the stock earbuds. They could have placed a tiny 3.5mm connector (like the one they use in the Shuffle itself) in the top of the remote for standard earbuds. That would have made a LOT more people happy.

Posted by new time engineer on March 17, 2009 at 12:57 AM (CDT)


My problem with your coverage about this whole thing, even from the very beginning a year and a half ago, is that you implicitly convey the DRM idea; that these chips exist there in order to let Apple have full control of what accessories can be connected to the iPods and how these work. And it seems this is not the case.

For the new shuffle, it is already clear that it works with other headphones, but you can’t control it as there are no headphones with the buttons needed. Sooner or later someone will come up with such headphones and they will work, whether they use apple’s chip or not, just as the cheap chargers and video cables work now (or even my car stereo that doesn’t have any chip).

Are you maybe reading way too much into this?

Posted by Dionysios on March 17, 2009 at 3:49 AM (CDT)


#28: Your initial paragraph is substantially incorrect. First, we never said or implied DRM. In the sense that the term is normally used, DRM is all but irrelevant here. Second, yes, this is an issue of developers requiring Apple permission to release any accessory for the iPod or iPhone. They now do, and have been subjected to extended delays, denials of permission to release useful products, and other issues that have created problems for them, and for consumers. And third, no, that is the case, and the precise issue.

We’re not reading way too much into anything. If you have a problem with the coverage, it’s either because you haven’t read it, understood it, or believed it. See the over 230 comments on this story, which have been added over the course of a year and a half, to see what real people have been dealing with.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 17, 2009 at 8:21 AM (CDT)


The fact remains that in order to use the new ipod shuffle I would have to buy a new headphone (that has been apple approved and have paid apple a licensing fee) and none of my current owned will work.

Green move eh.

Just another way to milk the market even more.

What next?

Only U2 or other similar corporate or political shills music will play on the ipods.

No matter how much the fanboys disguise it, it ain’t gonna fool many.

Good job ilounge, do not sell out.

Posted by Juan on March 17, 2009 at 8:42 AM (CDT)


like always, apple sucks!!! stealing design (BRAUN), and technology (ARCHOS) from others and selling it like their own.

go ahead ilounge -  stay to the truth


Posted by believe it on March 17, 2009 at 8:53 AM (CDT)


Great editorial, it’s why I come here instead of any other iPod/Apple site.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on March 17, 2009 at 11:22 AM (CDT)


I can’t tell you what a joy it is know that there are still those who value journalistic integrity. Thank you, guys. I dream of a world where Fox, CNBC, and CNN take cues from your work.

Posted by MirandaKali on March 17, 2009 at 12:25 PM (CDT)


thanks ilounge, good job

Posted by gonzalo on March 17, 2009 at 12:38 PM (CDT)


You guys are awesome.  Keep up the great work.  Journalistic integrity is the bomb!

Posted by healage on March 17, 2009 at 4:23 PM (CDT)


Jeremy, have you considered asking readers to write in to Apple to inform them that MANY of their customers rely on iLounge to obtain information that ultimately leads them to purchase their products.  I can see benefit to respectfully inform them that this approach of “punishment” is actually detrimental to their cause?

Thank you again for providing excellent and unbiased coverage of what matters to your readers… the truth.

Posted by MarkM on March 17, 2009 at 9:54 PM (CDT)


MarkM: Honestly, we wouldn’t bother. The people at Apple who would need to be contacted wouldn’t care. There are two sides to this company - some truly excellent, awesome people who care about doing the right thing and try their best to do so, and then, some others who aren’t quite as nobly motivated. This split in personnel, and the company’s unfortunate recent tendency to see what it can get away with, is the reason that Apple is harder to deal with these days than it was a few years ago.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 17, 2009 at 10:15 PM (CDT)


Is there a chance there is some kind of chip in the sync cable? I have 3 different 3rd party cables/adapters that work with all my 2G shuffles, and none of them work with the new 3G shuffle - all 3 won’t even charge, never mind sync!

Posted by Louise on March 17, 2009 at 10:41 PM (CDT)


Im proud of your stance iLounge.  I will always be loyal to you and your objectivity.

Posted by DROB on March 18, 2009 at 12:07 AM (CDT)


We know that a standard PTT button, in the form of an inline adapter or in an already existing 3rd party accessory, is all that is needed to control play/pause/forward/back. The chip was added for the additional controls for volume. If you use an inline analog volume control (which makes absolutely no impact on the quality of the audio, but simply requires a dial rather than buttons) then you have a pair of headphones/adapter that is ready -today- to control all functions. (with the exception that the volume buttons on the Apple headphones can also be used to quickly scroll between playlists, rather than waiting for each to be announced.)

Even with that said, I highly doubt apple would be able to defend any kind of patient on the chip, or would seriously take any action against any accessory maker who choses not to agree to the “Made for iPod” program. Apple made the shuffle this way because of a cosmetic choice, not to make money off of headphone accessories.

Posted by Ned Scott on March 19, 2009 at 4:46 PM (CDT)


Pieces like this give me some hope for the future of journalism, even if the reason it was written is so infuriating

Posted by Keenan on March 19, 2009 at 9:23 PM (CDT)


Keep up the good work! Wait till the EU gets hold of this chip… it’s Microsoft bundling all over again!

Posted by David on March 20, 2009 at 7:58 AM (CDT)


From a fellow reviewer I admire your work and your integrity for not bending over for Apple. I love my Apple products, but not so much their methods or nature as you’ve stated in the article. Keep up the good work, its always appreciated to know the good and the bad of a product regardless of what manufacturer it came from or what they are offering for “sugar coated” reviews.

Posted by Johnathan on March 20, 2009 at 2:17 PM (CDT)


Well done editorial and good for you guys. As a former reporter (not of technology), I’ve been on the receiving end of “punishment” from sources who didn’t like that I didn’t fawn all over them and believe what they said without question. It just makes us more determined to be honest and report fairly. I base so many of my Apple product purchases on your reviews, and I will continue to put my faith in your reviews and opinions.

Posted by Nancy B. on March 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM (CDT)


Companies don’t just put chips in their products without intent.
I have the new shittfle and the earphones are garbage.
Hope an adapter or better headphones are available soon.

Good solid reporting by ilounge, bravo. Fanboys will somehow justify Apples stand but they will unfortunately be too blind to realize this type of control will spread to other products in their line.

keep up the good honest work, ilounge.

Posted by Scott on March 20, 2009 at 7:45 PM (CDT)


this makes me want to read ilounge more!  Thanks ilounge!

Posted by Mike S on March 21, 2009 at 1:09 AM (CDT)


I don’t think I’ve ever posted on here before but have visited the site regularly since way back when you were ipodlounge.  I completely respect your site, its reviews and writers.  The above piece was brilliantly written and has certainly knocked a bit of the shine off Apple in my eyes.  Keep up the good, objective, work.  We appreciate it.

Posted by Richard on March 22, 2009 at 7:21 PM (CDT)


AppleInsider writes a negative review for the new shuffle, then gives it 3 stars and a “Good”. What a bunch of tards.

Posted by steveng on March 23, 2009 at 7:37 AM (CDT)


I’m a long-time Apple shareholder. The change in the way the company is dealing with its customers, accessory manufacturers, and the press has led me to consider selling. I hope to see a turnaround in the next year but am not optimistic. It’s a shame - this has been such a good company.

Posted by Ben on March 25, 2009 at 1:33 PM (CDT)


Thanks for your reviews and your work.  Your review of the new shuffle helped me get through that ridiculous “MUST…HAVE…IT” phase and I’m very happy I didn’t drop the $79 on it.  Other reviews have nudged me toward buying, so Apple shouldn’t sweat it.  They should just focus on making stuff that doesn’t suck, and the everything will sort itself out.

Posted by Orest on March 27, 2009 at 9:09 AM (CDT)


Umm, am i the only one who noticed that the authentification sound clip is a small piece of the opening to retronauts?

Posted by Jerz on March 27, 2009 at 7:11 PM (CDT)


Way to go Ilounge. I won’t deny it: My image of your website and its content just went up by several notches.

And consequently, my respect for Apple went down into -ve.

Posted by Aval on March 30, 2009 at 4:07 AM (CDT)


Apple hasn’t been in my good graces since 2007 when the 3rd gen nano/classic/touch came out:
- classic/nano were so buggy it amazed me there wasn’t a class action lawsuit against them. 6 months it took them to fix the classic to match its predecessor.
- The authentication chip for output video cables is a sham to further rip off the consumer. There is no real function of this chip other than to jack up prices.
- Jan software update for $20, only to turn around two months later offer a $10 update for the same apps plus more, not allowing people that got ripped on the jan update to upgrade for free.

Now we have the same authentication chip with the new shuffles. Really at this rate would anyone be surprised if the next generation of nano & classic iPods requires compatible head phones due to a authentication chip?

Posted by paranoidxe on March 30, 2009 at 9:37 AM (CDT)


Hey Jeremy, I’ve appreciated all of the work you guys have odne for several years. I won’t buy any of my iPod accessories without a recommendation from your articles, and I’ve come to the same conclusion about iPhone apps and your reviews. I have a lot of respect for your site and its opinions. This article has just shown why.

Has Apple responded to this article? Do they have any interest in justifying their position? Or have they kept tight-lipped, as usual? I agree that, while Apple generally produces great products, they tend to have some underhanded practices that make it hard to justify even considering purchasing a Shuffle. I hope Apple warms up to you, as a company that produces good products and wants honest reviews of said products.

Posted by Dave on March 31, 2009 at 4:34 PM (CDT)


#51: That was one of the podcasts on the shuffle.

#54: There was no official response from Apple either to our pre-review inquiries regarding the headphones, or afterwards. As noted in the “fanboys only” reference above, and the company’s continued practice of seeding hardware in advance to certain people who have demonstrated a willingness to put a positive spin on everything it does (see for example some of the retrospectively laughable Apple TV, iPod touch 1G and iPod shuffle 3G praise out there), “honest reviews” are not Apple’s objective. As should be fairly obvious from what happened with the iPhone, iPhone 3G, and a number of other products, Apple plays favorites with samples, leaked information, and the like in an attempt to generate a continuous flow of gushing coverage (see also http://www.apple.com/hotnews/), rather than a fair mix of informed praise and criticism. We’ll see whether this changes, but our suspicion is that it won’t.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on April 1, 2009 at 12:13 PM (CDT)


I am no Apple fanboy, despite owning many Apple products. I’ve had quite a few run ins with Apple at an executive relations level just to get basic issues sorted out.

I am a consumer and have no affiliation to Apple or any other manufacturer who makes Apple products accessories etc.

That said, I have previously purchased 3rd party iPod accessories which quite frankly sucked big time, poor quality and unreliable being amongst the main issues (other slightly more expensive 3rd party accessories work without issue).

If Apple are putting an authentication chip on board ‘made for iPod’ licensing, which will improve the quality and reliability of 3rd party accessories I don’t see an issue with that. I see Apple as trying to ensure the end user gets an all round good experience. A bad accessory could make an end user think their iPod’s acting up.

Why taint a pretty good music player with a bad 3rd party accessory? The authentication chip could solve this from happening.

Look at how big the iPod 3rd party ecosystem is. What’s wrong with Apple trying to protect the end user’s experience (along with their intellectual property etc)?

On a different point, if Apple are, as you claim, punishing those who do not conform to the company line, Apple should employ me.

I would invite all the people who dis Apple products along to events and give them a real example of what their machines and software can do.

I have had many people claim to ‘hate’ Macs, but when they see what and how quickly I can do things on my Macs, they very quickly go out and buy their own Mac, ditching Windows based PC’s altogether.

I’m not saying Macs are perfect, far from it, I started this off by stating I’ve had many run ins with Apple about their products.

Unlike my experiences with Microsoft, Apple have never got into the “it’s a known issue with that 3rd party application. Contact the vendor” Vendor states “it’s a known Windows issue”, so you the end user gets absolutely nowhere in fixing the issue.

Apple and/ or the 3rd party application vendor have always solved the issue(s) I’ve had.

On a personal note, if things are introduced to improve the end users’ experiences using Apple and Apple related products, which do not infringe my civil liberties etc, I wouldn’t complain about it.

Just my 2 cents worth. Thanks

Posted by Suds on April 4, 2009 at 8:50 AM (CDT)


#56: “If Apple are putting an authentication chip on board ‘made for iPod’ licensing, which will improve the quality and reliability of 3rd party accessories I don’t see an issue with that.”

Unfortunately, Apple actually started putting these chips into accessories years ago, and not only has this practice not improved the quality or reliability of third-party accessories, but it’s actually created most of the annoying accessory-related error messages you now see coming from both iPods and iPhones.

The licensing programs were portrayed as ways to improve end users’ experiences, but time has demonstrated pretty conclusively that they exist substantially to generate money and limit competition; most critically, they have not resulted in better products.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on April 4, 2009 at 10:22 AM (CDT)


Jeremy, journalists the world over like yourselves have the responsibility to report the truth & express your opinions. Obviously, not everyone will agree or like what you write. Some will even go so far as to “punish” you. Many journalists have already lost their lives just to be able to tell the world the truth! So what if Apple doesn’t invite you to events, or ignores your emails, or doesn’t send you new products?!?! Big deal man! It’s a small price to pay for standing your ground & doing what’s right for your readers.

So, fight on iLounge!

Posted by RLC on April 22, 2009 at 1:29 AM (CDT)


What gets me is how Apple is trashing the brand ... When I bought headphones from skullcandy they claim “IPOD” compatibility but you don’t notice that its only for 2nd gen. ipods.  There is very little available literature about headphone compatibility, it used to be obvious.  Apple could so confuse people they have to move on, I know I’m headed that way.

Posted by john on April 22, 2010 at 6:31 PM (CDT)


Thank you for this information. I was planning on buying the new nano this weekend, until I found out about of the controls in the headphones…  what were they thinking??

Posted by Lulu on May 29, 2010 at 8:09 PM (CDT)

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