iLounge announces policy on harmful accessories | iLounge Article

Article

iLounge announces policy on harmful accessories

Executive Summary: With readers ranging in age from 7 to 77, iLounge is committed to providing family-friendly and respectable editorial content and advertising. Effective immediately, iLounge will enforce site-wide policies on dangerous iPod accessories, knock-offs, and questionable vendor business practices in an effort to help our readers have the best possible experiences with their iPods and accessories.

Introduction

As the world’s leading independent publication on iPod portable media devices, iLounge is concerned first and foremost with the interests of its readers, and is not affiliated with Apple Computer or the manufacturers of any third-party iPod accessories.

Since our founding in 2001, iLounge has catered to readers aged 7 to 77, and maintained contacts with iPod accessory vendors located across the globe. Because of these contacts and our reputation for objective, honest reporting, we have been blessed with the unique opportunity to learn about and test literally hundreds of iPod-related products. We review the majority of those products in our pages and “recommend” (B+ or B grade) or “highly recommend” (A or A- grade) the best of them to our readers.

There are some products, however, that we have deliberately declined to recommend or cover for various reasons. We do not like, recommend, or cover every product we receive, and do occasionally rate products with B- and lower grades. Our C ratings are reserved for average products, while D+ and D grades have generally gone to below-average ones. This update to our readers concerns the worst of those products - ones meriting D and lower grades -  and discusses our policies on such products going forward.

The Larger the Room, the More Anonymous the People

The marketplace for iPod accessories - shorthanded as “the iPod economy” - has grown dramatically since 2001, and particularly over the past two years. While numerous reputable companies have entered the marketplace with well-made, original, and well-supported products, a handful of companies have sought to exploit consumers, other companies, and positive iPod media attention with a variety of harmful products and practices. Until now, these companies have largely operated under the radar, causing problems that iLounge’s editors may hear about and/or experience but generally do not publicize.

After several months of consultations with readers and vendors, iLounge has drafted editorial policies that address the most disturbing trends to emerge in the iPod marketplace: first, the proliferation of potentially dangerous iPod accessories; second, the alleged cloning of certain well-known accessories by knock-off manufacturers; and third, disreputable and/or illegal conduct by certain vendors of iPod accessories. While adopting such policies may modestly limit our editorial coverage and advertising, we believe that they are the responsible and appropriate response to the trust our readers have placed in us since our founding.

Dangerous iPod Accessories

What is a “dangerous” iPod accessory? One that can harm your iPod, itself, or you when used in the manner described in its advertising and/or instructions. Though many of the iPod accessories sold today have been tested to guarantee their safety and compatibility with all iPod hardware, some have not. iLounge is particularly concerned with Dock Connector accessories that are marketed as low-cost iPod 3G/4G/mini/photo battery packs, chargers, or cables.

We have tested and also received reader reports of these dangerous accessories. As just one example, a reader recently wrote to us because an USB data and charging cable he purchased had allegedly destroyed his iPod, and the vendor refused to take full responsibility for the defect. And we ourselves have tested products that make their own batteries - and likely the iPod’s internal components - sizzle from underregulated use of electric power.

Untested or undertested charging and cable accessories are most commonly sold by small retailers at “too good to be true” prices, and are either branded with the small retailer’s name or not branded at all. They are most often sold without an explicit warranty and/or with an aggressive disclaimer that the vendor takes no responsibility for damage that may occur as a result of the product’s use. Occasionally even reputable vendors have been convinced to carry these products by unscrupulous business partners. Regardless of whether the manufacturer or retailer knows of the dangers caused by the products they sell, they are in most circumstances responsible to their customers for those dangers.

Perhaps in response to these accessories, Apple Computer has recently initiated the “Made for iPod” program, which we reported on from San Francisco last month. “Made for iPod” appears to be a licensing and certification process that will let customers know that Apple has tested and approved specific electronic accessory products. Vendors will pay a fee to have their accessories certified as “Made for iPod,” and thus their products will likely cost a bit more than others. However, the extra cost may be worthwhile to consumers if the products are guaranteed to be iPod-safe.

Starting immediately, iLounge’s policy on all iPod Dock Connecting accessories is as follows:

(1) If a Dock Connector-equipped accessory has been certified by Apple as “Made for iPod”, we will textually note it as such in our information box at the top of a product review. We ask that vendors inform us whenever their products qualify for this designation, and additionally in the event that any or all of their products no longer qualify.

(2) We will also post a conspicuous link to a Made for iPod information page so that our readers know the stated difference(s) between Made for iPod products and others.

(3) We will henceforth rate any potentially dangerous product we receive with a letter grade of F, and any defective product we test with a letter grade of D-. Our D+ and D grades will continue to be reserved for products that are markedly below-average in design or functionality. Any product previously or inconsistently rated with these letter grades will be adjusted to reflect this change.

(4) As iLounge may receive products for testing that have been hand-picked by vendors as non-defective or less dangerous samples, we will contact a manufacturer to discuss any product that receives verified complaints of defects or dangerous components from five iLounge readers, and reserve the right to conspicuously re-rate such a product to reflect readers’ concerns.

(5) We reserve the right to deny editorial coverage and/or advertising space to any product that we believe is dangerous or defective, but will continue to cover and objectively evaluate products that are safe and do not violate any other iLounge editorial policy, regardless of their Made for iPod designations or lack thereof.

(6) Finally, we will actively recommend to our readers that they exercise extreme caution before purchasing accessories that have not been properly tested for iPod compatibility and safety.

Cloning of iPod Accessories by Knock-Off Makers

A number of iPod accessory innovations are directly attributable to specific companies, with designs so distinctive that any informed person would recognize their “look and feel” as one company’s innovation. But recently, knock-off manufacturers have been cloning some of these distinctive designs, dramatically reducing the quality of materials used in the original products, and selling the clones for as little as 30% of the originals’ prices. One vendor contacted us recently to say that a clone was being sold on eBay under the same name as its products, and customers who bought the clones had called to complain and request replacements.

In drafting a policy on cloned accessories, iLounge has taken into account three key considerations. First, we cannot police eBay or the entire web for cloned products, but we can control what we feature on our own site. Second, we do not want to help knock-off artists profit at the expense of companies that have expended time and effort in the design of original, quality iPod accessories. Third, we do not want to become either an arbiter of business/legal disputes over patents or other abstract forms of creative invention, and will therefore limit our policy to a narrowly defined class of “clones.”

Starting immediately, iLounge’s policy on cloned iPod accessories is as follows:

(1) For purposes of this policy, a “clone” is any product that conspicuously duplicates the overall look and feel of a directly competing product. The use of similar materials (i.e. plastic, metal, glass, rubber, or fabric) without other similiarities shall not constitute cloning. Cloning shall not be equivalent to alleged patent infringement, and iLounge will not act as an arbiter of patent or other rights between vendors.

(2) iLounge reserves the right to deny editorial coverage and/or advertising space to any company that sells cloned products.

(3) Any vendor that believes its product has been cloned may request that iLounge not provide editorial coverage of the cloned product. Please contact Dennis Lloyd ([email protected]) with any such request. However, iLounge reserves the right to determine the scope and nature of its editorial coverage, and shall have final discretion over whether and how to cover the product(s) in dispute.

(4) This policy is not retroactive and will only cover products first sold on or after February 1, 2005.

Disreputable and/or Illegal Conduct by Vendors

Most of the vendors selling iPod accessories are honest people with reasonable business practices and customer service policies. But a handful of vendors are less honest, reasonable, and customer service-oriented than the rest. Having had bad experiences with vendors ourselves, iLounge’s editors have wanted to help our readers avoid the same problems.

We more than occasionally hear from readers who have been sent incorrect or broken products, or never received their products at all. Worse yet, readers have complained that certain vendors do not answer e-mail and/or telephone messages, including repeated requests for post-order assistance, and in some cases refuse to honor their advertised performance specifications, pricing, or warranties.

We’ve already refused advertising space to some of these businesses, but that’s not enough. The same people hope to use our unpaid editorial coverage of their products to generate sales, and now there’s a new twist. In an attempt to generate controversy and attention, certain individuals are currently marketing iPod accessories that feature illegal narcotics, and have sought publicity in venues frequented by young readers - directly or indirectly including iLounge. We have refused to publicize or permit our editorial space or discussion forums to be used to publicize these products, but again, a further commitment is necessary.

While iLounge is firmly committed to the freedoms of trade and speech, we strongly oppose the abuse of those freedoms by companies that take advantage of their customers, either violating or encouraging the violation of laws. Editorially, we want to provide our readers with the best possible coverage of the iPod and iPod accessories - occasionally including news stories about iPod oddities and interesting cultural developments. But we have no obligation whatsoever to post materials or recommend vendors that we believe are not in iLounge’s or our readers’ best interests, and particularly refuse to direct attention to people or businesses that engage in questionable or illegal practices just because they’ve evoked the iPod name.

For these reasons, we have drafted the following policy regarding vendors that engage in or encourage disreputable or illegal conduct.

(1) iLounge reserves the right to limit or deny editorial coverage to any vendor that engages in, promotes, or encourages disreputable or illegal conduct. We strongly encourage all vendors seeking editorial or advertising coverage on iLounge to respect their customers and all laws applicable to their businesses.

(2) iLounge reserves the right to refuse advertising from any company, including without limitation those that engage in, promote, or encourage disreputable or illegal conduct.

(3) iLounge reserves the right to ban from its discussion forums any individual or company that uses our forums to (a) engage in, (b) promote, or (c) promote a company that engages in, disreputable or illegal conduct, and in the event of a repeat offense or offenses, levy forum moderation expense damages therefor in the amount of US$1000.00 per occurrence.

(4) iLounge reserves the right to notify its readers of any allegedly disreputable or illegal conduct engaged in by vendors, and unless the vendor has already commented on the subject, will give such vendors twenty-four (24) hours to comment prior to our first publication of a story or review discussing such conduct.

Procedures for Request and Resolution

If you are a reader or vendor with a complaint about a clone, dangerous, or illicit product that should not be covered on iLounge, please follow the procedures below to inform us about the product.

(1) Please address any request to the attention of Dennis Lloyd, Publisher of iLounge, at [email protected] Include your name, company name, business address, telephone number, e-mail address, and the name of the clone, dangerous, or illicit product you seek to identify. We will not read anonymous or psuedonym submissions.

(2) If applicable, please carbon copy or forward to iLounge the complaint you have sent to the manufacturer or vendor of the clone, dangerous, or illicit product identifying the product and its complained-about characteristic(s), as well as all responses you have received to your complaint.

(3) iLounge will, at its sole discretion, determine whether to contact the manufacturer or vendor, withdraw coverage of the company or product in question, ignore the complaint as specious, or take other action.

(4) iLounge may, at its sole discretion, recommend a method or methods by which the manufacturer or vendor may satisfactorily resolve the complaint.

Additional Reservation of Rights and Disclaimers

All rights of iLounge not explicitly reserved herein are hereby reserved, including without limitation the right to modify, expand, or limit these policies in its sole discretion. All advertisements and/or sponsorships on the iLounge web site are clearly understood to be paid messages of other third parties. iLounge’s acceptance of advertising or publishing of editorial content does not constitute endorsement of the subject matter contained therein, nor does iLounge’s denial of advertising or publishing of editorial content necessarily constitute any position on the subject matter contained therein unless otherwise explicitly specified by iLounge in writing. iLounge, its publisher, editors, and their agents (collectively, “iLounge”) make no representations or warranties as to (i) the reliability, accuracy, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, safety, completeness, correctness or suitability; (ii) of commercial utility; and/or (iii) of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, of the information contained in the advertisements or content (collectively, the “information”) appearing on iLounge. iLounge shall not be responsible for the information or for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in any such information, whether arising from negligence or howsoever otherwise or for any consequences arising therefrom, and you agree to indemnify, protect, defend and hold iLounge harmless from and against all claims arising out of the information. iLounge expressly disclaims any and all liabilities for all direct, indirect and consequential loss or damage, including without limitation loss or damage to property or for loss of profit, business, revenue, goodwill or anticipated savings resulting or arising from the use of iLounge or the information appearing therein.

Final Words

These policies have been established to make iLounge an even better resource for you, our readers. Thank you for taking the time to read them. We welcome and encourage your comments.

« Importing uncompressed music via Toast into iTunes

Apple’s Mac mini: the Ultimate iPod Accessory? »

Related Stories

Comments

1

This is very good policy that you’re implementing. I rely on sites like iPodlounge for the majority of my iPod accessory purchases.

Posted by kalahari in USA on February 1, 2005 at 10:50 AM (PDT)

2

Another reason why Ipodlounge is the best site of it’s kind on the net!

Posted by Flatso on February 1, 2005 at 11:58 AM (PDT)

3

Good to see you keeping up. I rely on this site almost soley for my iPod information, and have always been impressed with your professionalism. Keep up the good work.

Posted by graphicgeek in Utica, NY on February 1, 2005 at 12:03 PM (PDT)

4

I agree with your policy as well.  It was a very good idea to state exactly what iPodlounge considers “fair game.”  Great job!

Posted by Mijman2 on February 1, 2005 at 12:49 PM (PDT)

5

Very thorough! Good to tell readers and vendors alike.

Posted by Nagromme on February 1, 2005 at 1:20 PM (PDT)

6

By “denying editorial coverage” does that mean than no mention will be made of certain products/vendors that we should surely avoid?  I would like this information.  Some may say that any exposure is good exposure, but I don’t think that would be the case here at iPodlounge.

Posted by poopypants in Canada on February 1, 2005 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

7

Geez… usefulness aside (who’s gonna read all of this?) - it looks like some lawyers got a hold of you and beat you into submission. grin

Posted by umijin on February 1, 2005 at 4:51 PM (PDT)

8

Dear iPodLounge Management:

Interesting.

We spent 9-months of engineering time improving the structural integrity of the dock connector on the iPod, and have three new products coming to market soon that use this superior connector design, and we have three patent applications pending for this and similar iPod platform improvements. We are in no way tredding on Apple’s intellectual property, and our parts are not subject to the license agreement Apple requires for qualifying for the Made For iPod program.

That said, we have been informed that we cannot “improve” on the Apple/Foxconn 30-pin card edge connector, and that we must buy Foxconn’s inferior connector at, literally, 9-times (nine-times) the cost of building our own connectors. If we do not comply, we are barred from the Made For iPod program, from Apple’s retail outlets and, now, it seems, from editorial coverage at iPodLounge.

There is a myth that Apple promotes that their company is the only one capable of hiring terrific engineers and developing superior technology products. I have never seen this falsehood more egregiously promoted than within this Made For iPod program. Apple is currently strongarming all iPod developers into a choice of compliance, or being ostracized from Apple’s graces. I consider this the most anti-competitive practice I have ever encountered in my 31-years of business management and ownership experience.

I refuse to overpay for an inferior part, of a three-year-old design, from a captive supplier, at a ridiculous price, just because Apple “demands” that we do so. I refuse to include obsolete technology in one of our products, when we have the ability to do better, just because Apple “insists.”

I am also stunned that the management and editorial people at iPodLounge would endorse such a program, to the detriment of the entire 3rd-party iPod peripherals market. By doing so, you are helping to ensure reduced competiton to the accessories offered by Apple and a handful of chosen favorite “partners,” helping to ensure higher prices for your reasers, helping to ensure reduced choice for your readers, and are supporting an anti-competitive corporate attack on most of the creative, hard-working smaller iPod products developers in the market.

(continued in next post…)

Posted by MacMice on February 1, 2005 at 5:39 PM (PDT)

9

(...continued from previous post)

I am trying to overlook this “policy” of yours, for the moment, on the assumption that (in good faith) you have simply echoed whatever guidance you have received from Apple (or their ‘inside’ crony companies), without actually investigating the details of the Made For iPod program.

While about a dozen well-known brands that work hand in hand with Apple will benefit from Apple’s glowing endorsement from having this badge on their packaging, there are dozens upon dozens of companies gearing up amazing lines of iPod accessories that are not going to “qualify” for the badge. Apple promotes the idea that we are all selling inferior products. The reality is that we have simply chosen not to “comply” with Apple’s Borg-like demands.

I am formally requesting that iPodLounge do more research on the actual details and implementation of the Made For iPod program, and its effects on the complete spectrum of international iPod developers who are impacted by this program. Then, please publish your results, and form site policy based on the complete reality.

Thank you for the space to publish my opinions. Yours remains my favorite iPod web site.

Take care.

Jack Campbell, CEO
DVForge, Inc.

Posted by MacMice on February 1, 2005 at 5:39 PM (PDT)

10

umijin, apparently you haven’t read chief-editor Jeremy Horowitz’s bio that’s included at the bottom of many of his articles—he is a Cornell Law School graduate and also the author of a text, Law School Insider or something to that effect. wink

Posted by NeoteriX in Houston, TX or Westchester County, NY on February 1, 2005 at 5:41 PM (PDT)

11

Jack Campbell,

After briefly reading this draft, I do not think the specifications of the draft in any way reflect poorly on the products your company might produce.

It is my belief that Ipodlounge will merely make it clear whether or not a product is “Made for Ipod”—as a way of better informing the customer. Some people might value the “Made for Ipod” badge more, but isn’t that the point? Companies pay Apple more for a certain “exclusivity” in positioning their product, and some customers will pay more to have the assurance of compatibility.

I for one am consider myself a pretty informed customer (as many are), and I’ll do my homework so that I can get the best product for my money. The “Made for Ipod” badge will only be a small part of my overall buying calculus.

I don’t believe that this in anyway implies that products “Made for Ipod” will be graded any better by Ipodlounge (I hope), and I also believe it doesn’t mean that products that use their own dock connectors and such will be rated poorly or “unsafe” just because they want to deliever a cheaper product. I think the unsafe rating is reserved for products like the Boombox that was fixed a week ago—where the batteries melted.

I think 3rd party companies, even ones that don’t shell out the big bucks to Apple will benefit from this resolution.

Posted by NeoteriX in Houston, TX or Westchester County, NY on February 1, 2005 at 5:50 PM (PDT)

12

Hi Jack,

Your comments are appreciated, as are those of our other readers here.

As a point of clarification, iPodlounge is by no means barring non-“Made for iPod” products from editorial coverage across the board, and are certainly not barring MacMice ones. In fact, we featured a MacMice mouse in our recent Mac mini story, and think it’s awesome.

We are simply (a) noting products that are designated as “Made for iPod,” (b) letting readers know about defective and dangerous products, (c) letting consumers make up their minds based on the best information we have available. This is just one piece of a much larger policy designed to help our readers get products that are well-designed and -tested rather than ones that are churned out cheaply without regard to safety.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 1, 2005 at 6:02 PM (PDT)

13

I’m actually less concerned about this, in practice, than I am concerned about it, in theory. In practice, 99% of our customers at retail will neither notice nor care about Apple’s little badge. However, at a philosophical/theoretical level, this entire Made For iPod badging program…well, stinks.

I spoke with the general manger of a small Taiwanese manufacturing company last night, who told me that his board had instructed him to kill a mobile iPod dock that they had in development, because of the “message” that they had picked up back-channel that Apple would not support nor sell any product made by a “first tier” manufacturer that was completely involved in Apple’s “licensing” programs. I know nothing about this, first-hand. I know nothing about the mobile dock product. But, what if it would have been a great product, at a great price, and would have marginally increased the choice and value available to iPod owners?

I feel like a coward, because I was approached by BusinessWeek a few days ago, to talk about this situation, and I bowed out. I already have a reputation as a loud mouth and a hothead… grin ... so, why not speak out? This time, it’s not just my company being impacted. It is every iPod developer that does not presently have products on the Apple store site.

I just rebel at this sort of backhanded attempt at killing off competition, and, against any measure I see that supports this sort of tactic.

Posted by MacMice on February 1, 2005 at 6:02 PM (PDT)

14

Umijin: To the contrary… As Anthony suggests, I’m the one with the legal background, and these sorts of formal editorial policies are not uncommon for publications. We are just making ours a conspicuous announcement so that our readers know where we stand.

No outside lawyers were involved in the drafting of these policies, and no threat/influence was involved. It was an independent editorial judgment made based on our own past experiences and desire to see our readers better protected against increasingly predatory practices.

(On the legal point, I’ll note that we have previously been asked by readers and vendors alike to act as a mediator for their product defect-related complaints, and have turned them down. We’re in the journalism business, not the legal business here. grin )

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 1, 2005 at 6:28 PM (PDT)

15

its very important for publications to post there policies. the more transparent any organization is the more likely it can be trusted. the last thing we want is more propaganda, even if its only iPod propaganda.

Posted by tumblingwall in u.s. on February 1, 2005 at 7:09 PM (PDT)

16

wow, lets not get to involved now.
I will buy something if it works, not just because it has been “endorsed” by apple.
Its good though to have feedback on products which are not suitable, ie will “kill” my ipod.

Posted by macdaddie in thailand on February 1, 2005 at 7:15 PM (PDT)

17

Jeremy. My specific issue here is only with the site weaving Apple’s proprietary Made For iPod program into its editorial policies. It comes off as an endorsement of that program. And, I guarantee that you have not had the benefit of compelte disclosure of that program, nor have you been fully informed about all of the resulting impact on either manufacturers or consumers to result from the program. Again, I think this was done in good faith, in a somewhat naive belief that it is just as presented by Apple. And, I am calling for your team to actually require full discosure from Apple, as well as make sufficient out of channel inquiries to investigate the full scope of the program, before publicly endorsing it.

My personal belief, working with all of the information at hand, is that the program is both anti-competitive and extremely hostile to the very consumers it purports to help.

Posted by MacMice on February 1, 2005 at 7:36 PM (PDT)

18

It’s all part of the ever-growing “Apple Economy”. You want in on the currency- selling your products for an iPod? Then you simply have to pay the piper. A good deal of these 3rd party manufacturers are making a KILLING by selling ANYTHING iPod. If they weren’t, trust me, they wouldn’t still be in business and continuing to pump out iPod accessories. They know a cash cow when they see it…

As an iPod owner, lover and consumer, having “certified” accessories, especially one dealing with power/dock and cables are much welcomed. I don’t buy bootleg cables off eBay. I don’t buy “no name” products from shady vendors. No sir. Case in point: I went and shelled out prime $$$ to ensure that I bought an OFFICIAL APPLE cable as to not have to worry about overcharging, shorting and/or overall damage to my expensive musical investment. I like the idea of a “Made for iPod” stamp of approval because it typically lets me know that, God forbid, if anything should go wrong, that company, and Apple, have stood behind it and I have some form of obvious recourse. NOT SO with A LOT of these bootleg, 3rd world, 3rd party crack dens that make shoody iPod accessories by day and make Nike sneakers by night. No thank you. I’d rather put an extra $1 into an accessory to insure that my $299+ doesn’t burst into flames. Thank you very much sir.

As for 3rd party companies that “can’t afford” or do not wish to abide by the “Made for iPod” seal? If you make a reliable product that offers customers great bang for the buck and DON’T burst into flames upon impact, then, my friend, you will sell product! Also, remember to offer competent customer service with a warranty and you’ll never be without a customer knocking on your door and pushing money in your face for you iPod accessories. Of that you can be sure, stamp or no stamp.

Posted by FallN in New York, NY on February 1, 2005 at 9:22 PM (PDT)

19

I think the new policy is GREAT. With the proliferation of products and knock-offs, it is hard to tell what’s what - the MADE FOR IPOD is a start and frankly, if you can’t stand the heat - get out of the kitchen. If your product can’t pass the FIRST test, why the hell are you selling it?

And sure, there are a few product that’s probably not going to get the designation like maybe that “video player” weird kludge but if it’s from a top tier company like Belkin or Griffin, people would still buy it without having the MADE FOR IPOD designation because you trust they stand behind it ... so if you haven’t built up a name for yourself yet - you have to stop and earn our trust FIRST.

Is that asking too much?

Manufacturers and retailers do it ALL THE TIME - the UL designation, the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL , etc , etc , etc ... there are literally hundreds of designations from (K)OSHER to FDIC - it’s part of doing PROFESSIONAL BUSINESS. The flea market-haphazard backalley bazzar days of the ipod are over - especially if chargers are setting machines on fire ... it’s time to GROW UP.

Get certified. Get a degree - whatever you call it - welcome to the grown up world!

Posted by jbelkin on February 1, 2005 at 10:58 PM (PDT)

20

Jack - I do respect your opinions on this, and again, thank you for sharing them.

In a point that I will clarify in the policy above, iPodlounge is not halting coverage of non-MFI accessories. Accessories that work properly with the iPod regardless of MFI status are still going to appear, and be rated fairly, on iPodlounge. Accessories that do not work properly with the iPod regardless of MFI status will be subject to the new policy - so, if we tested a MFI product and it damaged our iPod, it would get F-ranked in the same way as a non-MFI product.

Before we drafted the policy, many vendors had MFI opinions they wanted to share with us (pro, con, and mixed). Consequently, we have not fully endorsed the MFI program yet - like many other people, we want to hear more specifics.

But to the extent Apple will be certifying that MFI products are iPod-safe, we think that our readers should know about that guarantee. For every reputable manufacturer right now that actually tests its accessories, there’s another one out there that hasn’t.

Again, this isn’t a policy designed to impact any reputable vendor - unless the vendor hasn’t been testing the stuff they’re selling, which is reasonably uncommon. So we’re not so much concerned about the MacMice or the Griffins or Belkins of the world, as the anonymous OEM companies that have seriously been screwing up our and our readers’ $300-600 iPods by selling cheap but dangerous chargers and cables. If only every company was willing to test, warranty, and live up to its warranties on the accessories it sells, this wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 1, 2005 at 11:35 PM (PDT)

21

I am neither connected to his company nor any other company selling, producing, designing etc. products for the iPod nor am I connected to Apple. Therefore I do not have any information about the “Made for iPod” program that has not been published here at iPodlounge.

BUT I think MacMice has pointed out an interesting element of that program / label: its conditions.

Surely FallN and jbelkin are correct there are numerous seals / designations / label of approvals out there we all rely on - but normally we do know what these labels stand for, e.g. if a product is labeled “kosher”  those interested in obtaining “kosher” products know what “kosher” means, which conditions a product has to fulfill to be labled “kosher” may it be meat or fridges.

In your posts you both assume that the conditions to obtain the “Made for iPod” label are “only” that certain quality criteria are met to guarantee that no harm is done to the iPod and a general quality level is obtained. Such a label certainly would be great and every company not willing to endorse it may do so at its own risk and may come off as trying to rip off its customers - or even save a few cents in the wrong place (as certainly obtaining any label / seal is connected with licensing and / or testing costs).

It certainly is the good right of Apple to limit the product range of add-ons available in its shops to those which obtained the seal / label. They could have done the same prior already and personally I must say: I had expected that products sold in an official Apple store were tested by Apple beforehand that they do not harm my iPod and are of a certain minimum quality. So if this is just a “no harm / but minimum quality”-label and Apple is only interested in helping us as users (and not making a buck by selling the label) normally there should be no changes in the product range available.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 12:05 AM (PDT)

22

BUT MacMice says that the conditions to obtain the “Made for iPod” label are exceeding such general “no-harm”- and “minimum-quality”-policies. He says that there is a wide range of conditions including the a provision that the product must make use of the “Apple/Foxconn 30-pin card edge connector” and must not use an alternative to this if it connects to the dock-connector.

As far as I understand MacMice an alternative to this device / element can be created by independent companies without infringing any rights of Apple (so there are no patents or copyrights in the way of doing this) and without causing any harm to the iPod or producing any lower quality than the offical Apple-item. In fact MacMice says that such third-party connector elements may be of higher quality or more functionality than the official part.

Hmmm ... if now the condition to obtain the label is not that a third-party connector element is causing no harm and is up to quality standards but that the add-one makes use of no other connector element but the official one ... well that has no longer to do with protecting me / us as customer / user of an iPod. The only thing protected here would be the interests of Apple and the company producing the connector elements for it, as it would guarantee them the sales of there (according to MacMice maybe overpriced or maybe inferior) product.

If correct this would not help me as customer but actually would harm my interestes as it would increase the price of “approved” products and may result in “inferior” products.

Also if such conditions / rules for obtaining the label exist and the average customer does not know them it may have a negative impact on the range of add-ons available. Why? Because average customers may not buy those products not featuring the label even so they may be superior or at the some quality ma be cheaper compared to approved products forcing companies producing the “superior” or"cheaper” products to cancel them and exit the market.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 12:06 AM (PDT)

23

To make it short: I am all for a “no harm”- and “minimum quality guaranteed”-label - but after the posts of MacMice it seems we have a different kind of label here, one disguising(??) as a “no harm”- and “minimum quality guaranteed”-label which in fact is a “protect my market share for certain products”-label.

The information from MacMice should result in all of us questioning the new label ... unfortunately as single customers we won’t be able to solve this ... but I think iPodloung is in a position to do so and as THE non-Apple-related website for iPod-users it is nearly an obligation for it but certainly should be in its own interest to try to follow up on this.

If the information from MacMice is wrong Apple surely should have no problem to reveal the provisions / conditions of the program upon request of iPodlounge (with the exact license prices for using the label blacke out). If it is not willing to reveal the conditions I think this should be brought to the attention of the classic major media outlets.

Then, when we see the conditions to obtain the label I think we can pass judgment on MacMice, whether he actually is right in rejecting the program (because it would force him to use certain products not for quality reasons but only for reasons of Apple’s profit) or whether he is just trying to save the costs of obtaining it.


So iPodloung: please contact Apple and request a statement from them or (even better) the conditions of the program ... maybe there is also someone out there in the industry willing to pass on the conditions which he received from Apple?? This would be in the interest of all of us as iPod-Users.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 12:06 AM (PDT)

24

Stagestar: This thread has been sidetracked as a Made for iPod discussion when the thrust of the policies above was dangerous/cloned/questionable legality accessories. And even the tangential MFI discussion is not related as much to the consumer protection component (which Apple has publicly acknowledged it intends to fulfill, as noted in the second MFI link in the policy above) as it is Apple’s business terms, which are issues of commerce and not the concern of the policies implicated above. There has not been a substantiated allegation that Apple will promise “no harm” and not deliver on it. At most, what has been suggested is that Apple will promise no harm and require a fee for certifying no harm.

Apple need not be the only guarantor of no harm; third-parties can perform tests, offer warranties, or do neither and offer a really cheap price on untested, unwarranted products. (The last one is hard to get away with theoretically because some warranties are required by law, but unfortunately easy to get away with practically because the costs of lawsuits are higher than the damages suffered. Class action suits therefore become necessary, and so on.) And as Jack is demonstrating by proposing an enhanced Connector and/or products that are so cool that the “authorized” ones can’t compete, the consequence of the MFI policy need not be a loss for independent developers. It’s all what you make of it.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 2, 2005 at 12:33 AM (PDT)

25

Yes, this thread has been sidetracked but I think it is an important sidetracking as it pointed out something very important:

1. the posts of jbelkin and FallN show that even the informed iPod user (=one not only using the iPod but so interested in it that he visits a website dedicated to it and contributes to discussions on that site) assumes that the label “Made for iPod” is meant to indicate only that a product is of certain quality standards and of no harm to the iPod. Basically this means that the average user assums fulfilling this criteria is the only major condition to receive the label once according testing and maybe a nominal license fee for the label is payed for.

2. MacMice points out that on top of the conditions that the product does not harm the iPod and is of certain quality the producer has to fulfill addition conditions to receive the label: he must agree to certain business policies of Apple including the utilization of certain Apple products / components even if third party components are not harming the iPod, are of good quality and maybe even cheaper or of superior functionality. Basically this means: certain products are excluded from receiving the label not for reasons of risk to the iPod or quality issues.


IF the information from MacMice is correct this would mean that the impression of the label most users have (and I also had till I read this thread) is WRONG. I would have assumed that a product not labeled would either be a risk for my iPod, of inferior quality or the company would have wanted to save the few cents to receive the label - when in fact (IF MacMice is correct) the only cause for the product not having the seal of approval is that it uses a better component than Apple is willing to produce.

Under these circumstances the label COULD have a negative impact on the competition due to the lack of information about the conditions / meaning of the label among users.


I don’ doubt that Apple will fulfill the consumer protection component of the label - the question here is whether there MIGHT be other components to the label which are more important and overrule the consumer protection. IF MacMice is correct a perfectly save product would be turned down for the label because of not using an Apple component.

That is why I think it is important for all of us to get the full insight on what are the real conditions to get the label.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 12:48 AM (PDT)

26

Regarding the “no harm” component: I did not want to give the impression that Apple would promise that such labeled products do no harm to iPods. I only wanted to point out that this is what the average user expects to be the condition an product has to meet during tests to receive the label.


These labels usually do not carry any kind of guarantee. Certainly the producer is responsible for his product - even if it may be difficult to actually win in court against him.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 12:51 AM (PDT)

27

As far as “dangerous” iPod accessories are concerned, how would iPodLounge determine that an accessory is “dangerous” if it may require several days, weeks, or months before the accessory damages the iPod? Would you lengthen review periods to allow for extended use to find out? Also, if an accessory is rated favorably in the initial review, and then later found to be “dangerous” (through user comments or subsequent use by the review team), would the rating be altered to reflect that? Personally I would certainly not like to buy an accessory that, after the initial review, is rated favorably and then found to destroy my iPod afer extended use. However, I do realize that that may turn out to be a risk some users may need to take.

I agree with stagestar above. “Made For iPod” doesn’t necessarily mean that the product is absolutely 100% safe for your iPod. Previously being in QA, I know that defects can and will occur, even how tight development and manufacturing processes are. Every so often “lemons” can crop up, which, if obtained by some people, can get blown out of proportion, and seem to indicate that “every” item made by Company XYZ is bad. Also, how the user uses the product can also have a major impact. If the user plugs a 120V rated “Made For iPod” adapter into a 240V outlet, there’s no question that the iPod will explode or suffer meltdown. =D That may be an extreme example, but I have seen situations where a user uses a product improperly and then “complains” that it is broken.

However, marketing being as it is, “Made For iPod” can lead people to believe that those products are “quality” and will “never break down”, even though Apple may not explicitly say so. I’m sure there will be plenty of non-“Made For iPod” accessories that work perfectly fine (heck, *every* accessory up to now has been non-“Made For iPod”). Consumers should make educated decisions and not let certain types of marketing get in the way of making purchases.

Posted by DualShock on February 2, 2005 at 2:58 AM (PDT)

28

I think if the Made For iPod seal is a necessary evil. For one, if Apple is going to sell iPod accessories on its website, for it’s own propriety product, then buyers may reasonably assume that those accessories are “safe”: they are going to trust Apple’s judgement as a tech company. If that is the case then Apple would have to bare all of the burden (and financial costs?) relating to that perception. Enter the “Made For iPod” seal. Now the manufacturers of said accessories are going to have to share that burden, as well as ensuring good user experience (of Apples already excellent product)

But DualShock makes a good point. What if products reviewed (iPod seal or no) eventually turn out to have some kind of significant defect? iPodLounge would then re-rate that product highlighting the problem. This is helpful, but still means that buying an iPod accessory is a fairly risky decision that may harm your principal (and cherished) investment: Your iPod. This brings me to my untimate point: By having the basic framework for reviewing that this seal creates most of the anxieties consumers may have about potential defects will be allayed. It also means (and I’m not familiar with the terms of “Made For iPod”) that someone will be held untimately responsible.

Continues below…

Posted by NERDBRAIN on February 2, 2005 at 5:20 AM (PDT)

29

That’s the necessity. The “evil” is the idea, and likelyhood, that many ‘excellent’ products may not come to market because they have circumvented propriety technology to bring costs down. Secondly, this may, in fact turn out to be a revenue stream for Apple, but that’s not necessary a bad thing. The iPod accessory market is treating iPod as a cash cow. Certainly, lots of money is being made but Apple needs to now re-focus this market and stress quality or it risks having the value of it’s product deminished.

Posted by NERDBRAIN on February 2, 2005 at 5:22 AM (PDT)

30

Nerdbrain says:
>>
Enter the “Made For iPod” seal. Now the manufacturers of said accessories are going to have to share that burden, as well as ensuring good user experience (of Apples already excellent product)
<<

I think just the opposite will happen. Before Apple had just sold the the third party product and could say: well, it is a third party product we are not responsible for the basic flaw in its design (if such exists and got unnoticed so far). Now with the Apple-endorsement in form of the label customers will say: “but you did not only sell but also said it was ‘made for the ipod’ - you are responsible, because it has a basic flaw and therefore was not properly made for the iPod!” Certainly the policy of the label is such, that Apple is NOT liable but this will not change the “feeling” / “impression” of the average customer.

The only thing the label will have an effect is, that Apple will receive testing data and can use it to avooid badly designed / produced add-ons.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 6:15 AM (PDT)

31

Nerbrain also says:
>>
Apple needs to now re-focus this market and stress quality or it risks having the value of it’s product deminished.
<<

You are right, Apple should try to find a way to establish a minimum quality-level for the add-on market, if only because the product’s image can be deminished by bad lemons among third party products.

A label which is based on quality-levels would be perfect to achieve this.

BUT if MacMice is correct the label will NOT be awarded to high quality products unless they guarantee to use components obtained from Apple and its partners. In other words: the label is first of all depending on who pays for components and only on a second level on the quality.

The result could be that the higher quality products may not be able to gain the label. This will deminish the effect of the label.

I am all for such a label - but before I trust such a label I want Apple to reveal the conditions on which the decisions to award the label are based.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 2, 2005 at 6:19 AM (PDT)

32

Whoa!
Its Jack Campbell of Mactable, macwhispers fame.

I am not surprised.

Bravo ipodLounge! Even though you’ll take ad money and review a product, you do provide some information that “the knowledgeable” reader can use to differentiate Quality from junk.

I’ve referred your site to several dozen colleagues that have been rewarded with reviews and products not collectively found anywhere else. Keep up the good php!

Posted by Meek on February 2, 2005 at 7:03 AM (PDT)

33

I find it interesting to see who is stirring the pot here.  I have no idea how fair/unfair or reasonable/unreasonable the Made for iPod program is.  This whole thread about Apple keeping people from getting higher quality iPod connectors doesn’t make sense to me.  First, I am skeptical of claims that a third-party could provide a better connector.  I have connected/disconnected my iPod thousands of times with no ill results, so I think the quality is fine.  Second, and more importantly, it seems that a logical reason for this is future-proofing.  If Apple decides to change or enhance the connector, they know exactly how the old one works and don’t have to accommodate for different designs.  Suppose you bought a product that had a different connector and it had a “Made for iPod” label on it.  Suppose that in the future, Apple changed something and it no longer worked.  Now, Apple is holding the ball because they endorsed this product.  I think it is perfectly reasonable to make any restrictions they deem necessary to keep from having unhappy customers in the future.  If you think this makes Apple “bad”, then buy a Dell DJ (they certainly could use your business) or some other player.  Apple is not preventing anyone from selling anything, they are simply saying that they give certain items their stamp of approval.  Personally, I feel fine buying unendorsed products from established companies like Belkin.  I currently shy away from purchasing from “no name” companies, but if it had the “Made for iPod” logo on it, I would actually consider it.  To me, this seems like a BENEFIT to smaller companies.

Posted by B. Mayo on February 2, 2005 at 7:29 AM (PDT)

34

I like iPod no breaky.

Posted by Gordy. in Atlanta, GA on February 2, 2005 at 8:20 AM (PDT)

35

We have an upcoming car mount for the iPod amd iPod mini that we have spent well over a year engineering, from scratch. We intend and hope to seize the high ground in the entire market space for this type product. So, we’ve evaluated and tested every tiny detail of the thing relentlessly, along the way.

One early concern was that the Foxconn-supplied dock connector was available only as a PC-board solder-mount form factor. And, our testing proved (quickly) that the Foxconn connector was not up to the task of serving as a mechnical mounting point for even an iPod mini… much less an iPod photo model. So, we rejected the part as unsuitable, and we went to work creating a more rugged, more durable connector. And, we succeeded. Out connector smokes the Apple connector in the beef and brawn department, sufficiently that we are prepared to warrant the product under our name, and face the responsibilities of production and sale of the resulting product. As a by-product, the connector is simpler than Apple’s, and, we can build it for a fraction of what Foxconn demands for the other (wrong) connector.

In my discussions wiht Apple, I was told that none of that mattered; we are required to ONLY use the PCB mount Foxconn connector in any product that mates to an Apple iPod dock port.

Again, simply, there is a hugely erroneous assumption held by a huge number of people that ONLY Apple is competent to design and build parts and products of high quality and of excellent mechnical and electrical design. Apple is manipulating the resulting fear of that belief to prop up a straighforward anti-competitive endorsement program.

Too many people are focused on the low-end of this market, and the products there that are swiftly cranked out, with no real engineering effort, just to snatch a quick buck. While this program, and the diligent thrird-party testing by wonderful organizations like iPodLounge address the risks form that market group, this MFI logo program from Apple elegantly puts those of us on the other end, the higher end of the market, right in their company sights.

Yes, this discussion follows a post of iPodLounge’s new policies, so, to an extent, my commentary here could be viewed as a sidetrack. My feeling is that, by specifically addressing Apple’s logo program in those policies, that program is fair game for discussion here.

(continued in next posting…)

Posted by MacMice on February 2, 2005 at 8:54 AM (PDT)

36

(...continued form prior posting)

One poster seemed to paint any Asian products as “junk”. The interesting point there is that ALL of the iPod accessories referenced here are made in Asia, as is the iPod product line, itself. “Asia” is not synonymous with “junk.” Products must be viewed and considered individually.

My contention is that Apple should offer a certification program like this, but, that it should be administered by a third-party laboratory, and it should be divorced from all business related requirements.

Tying the Made For iPod label program to a laundry list of unpublished business requirements that all only benefit Apple (not its customers) is at best suspect, and, at worst, is the sort of cleverly backhanded anti-competitive trickery more normally associated with other companies. At a minimum, by omitting these details from its public disclosures, this approach is (already) gaining traction with well-intentioned consumers, who simply assume that all things from Apple are good and pure.

Why am I discussing this here? First, because Apple’s people will not discuss any of it. It is a take it or leave it proposition from them. Second, because I think it is important… not really to us, as we are large enough and have resale channels well developed enough to be effectively immune from an Apple blackball… but, important to the smaller developers who are working to cleverly move the iPod platform forward, but, who do not feel like obliging themselves to being Apple serfs. Our company is past the point where any of this is relevant to our growth or operations. Many, many small companies are not.

Okay… I’ve said my piece. And, courtesy of Google, these words of caution will sit here for some time. Maybe, along the way, they will help in some way to promote more out of the box thinking and some great new iPod products for those of us who love the iPod.

Jeremy… I still ask that you make what effort you can to dig around in this area some, and see if you can sniff through the politically correct, carefully phrased statements coming from Apple (and, especially, from a handful of their key 3rd-party bedfellows), and scope out the complete story here. It is nowhere near as pretty and as “consumer friendly” as any of these insiders would lead you to believe.

Again, thanks for the platform. If anyone wishes to follow up with me, my email address here is correct, and can be used.

Posted by MacMice on February 2, 2005 at 8:56 AM (PDT)

37

stagestar: Apple requires an NDA to participate in the Made For iPod program. I wrangeld as much information out of them as possible (nearly all of it…) prior to signing such an NDA, and then, never signed it. So, I am at liberty to talk. Other vendors either (A) have not been as fully briefed, or (B) have trustingly signed the NDA, and can’t talk. Apple is covering itself very, very well as it works the behind the scenes channel with this logo program.

Posted by MacMice on February 2, 2005 at 9:02 AM (PDT)

38

B. Mayo said, “I currently shy away from purchasing from “no name” companies, but if it had the “Made for iPod” logo on it, I would actually consider it. To me, this seems like a BENEFIT to smaller companies.”

Again, you presume that Apple is the only company capable of quality engineering for the iPod, judging the engineering of others about the iPod, and of endorsing or rejecting the engineering of others of iPod products. And, you presume that Apple’s motives and methods in the Made For iPod are purely technical in nature. None of that is true.

Posted by MacMice on February 2, 2005 at 9:08 AM (PDT)

39

I for one was pretty excited about the MFI program, as I feel my iPod will now be safe from cheapskates and bad clones. iPodlounge has made it clear that this is something they will keep tabs on. Just because they will tell you that a product has been certified as MFI does not mean they endorse it. Some people are going to pay attention to this and others aren’t. Most loungers will find the infomation nice to have, even if they don’t particularly care.

Jack - you sound like a very bitter dude. I’m a little sick of your Apple-bashing. They make great stuff, and they make money doing it. If they want you to use a specific connector, then they have their reasons. They may be financial or otherwise, and are most likely a mix of things, but what you have to respect is that you are just a flea on the dog. You stay with the dog or you are out in the cold. So knock it off and let’s talk about the Lounge’s new policies!

I love it guys! Thanks for keeping us all well-informed and our favorite toys well-clothed and accessorized. Keep it up!

Filly

Posted by Filly in Woodstock, GA on February 3, 2005 at 2:08 PM (PDT)

40

Fiily said: “They may be financial or otherwise, and are most likely a mix of things, but what you have to respect is that you are just a flea on the dog.”

Actually, I think I was pretty clear in stating that our company is large enough and successful enough that we’re effectively immune from the back-channel nastiness Apple is undertaking with the MIF program. My concern is more for the dozens upon dozens of companies that are being shut out of the channel and will now choose to not bring, or will not be able to bring some really terrific iPod accessories to market… not for any “quality’ reasons, but because they cannot or will not abide Apple’s absurd business requirements tied to the program. Actually, this flea is doing incredibly well, without Apple’s hand in our pocket. Unfortunately, this “program” will notably impact the ability of a large number of very competent manufacturers from giving iPod owners a wider, richer, more interesting group of quality accessories from whch to select.

Sorry if my pointing out some ugly truth here is considered “Apple bashing.” I love Apple products, am personally a 100% Apple platform user, and have been since 1985. Great products, however, do not excuse predatory business practices that negatively impact consumers.

Posted by MacMice on February 3, 2005 at 3:43 PM (PDT)

41

Filly says:
>>
If they want you to use a specific connector, then they have their reasons.
<<

I think your post perfectly shows, why the discussion started by MacMice is so important and why the topic should be further inquired on by iPodlounge (a request iPodlounge has not yet said yes or no to).

Before this discussion everybody assumed the MFI label was a pure quality label. Now we here as iPodlounge-users already learned from MacMice that the MFI forces companies to use certain elements REGARDLESS of quality questions. This has changed my perception of MFI (and also of Apple) ... and I think now we have to wonder what other obligations are part of the receiving the label.

Posted by stagestar in Germany on February 4, 2005 at 5:14 AM (PDT)

42

MacMice, unless you’re totally against Apple now, you could sell them the license to your new version of the dock connector and make money through them. Then you’ll be paid everytime they use or sell your work. Though it’s more likely that Apple would rather make their own improvements if any at all, it’s worth a shot.

Posted by andres in Miami on February 4, 2005 at 7:44 PM (PDT)

43

Guys, I think this is a misdirected policy that will keep the prices artificially high.

It would not suprise anyone if Apple gave it’s favored ‘partners’ advance details of new launches which will enable them to come out with accessories first. Anything similar to these initial products could be deemed knock offs by iPodlounge and not receive any good publicity from iPodlounge. As the leading iPod site surely you will be depriving users from accessing cheaper accessories. Not everyone can afford the high prices some companies are charging. If the accessories market is dominated by just a few companies it will result in overpriced accessories.

$29 socks & shuffle hubs will become the norm if you go with this policy and that can’t be in iPod users best interests.

No other gadget ( including iPods ) site has a similar policy. Please champion our ( iPod users ) needs rather than Apples.


The comments below are from a Chicago Tribune Article today.

“Apple has a nasty habit of looking at its partners’ successful revenue-producing accessories and making them itself,” Enderle said. “Apple is a horrible company to partner with. It’s a great design company, but horrible to partner with

Posted by Martin R in Mostly LA on February 5, 2005 at 4:47 AM (PDT)

44

Martin: As noted in the policy, our readers come first, period. This policy is not for Apple’s benefit, it’s for our readers.

We’ve already said it in other words, but 95% of the companies you see on iPodlounge will be unaffected by the policy. It is not in anyone’s interest - our readers, ours, or even the “iPod economy’s” to see the number of competitors drop - in fact, we want to see it increase. To the extent we can positively affect things, we will.

We remain concerned only about the bottom 5% - companies you may never have even heard of - that are literally stealing designs wholesale and in some cases selling their products under the same name. You’d probably agree that such a practice is in no one’s interest but the shady company that does it.

As a final note on this, we decide for ourselves what is and isn’t a knock off, and we will not apply the term lightly. Devices such as Griffin’s iTalk, for example, would not be deemed a knock-off of Belkin’s Voice Recorder. There’s a reason - several, actually - that we didn’t define it in patent terms.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 8, 2005 at 8:08 AM (PDT)

45

andres said: “MacMice, unless you’re totally against Apple now, you could sell them the license to your new version of the dock connector and make money through them…”

On the contrary, we are totally for Apple, insofar as wishing the company well in its continued string of hit, gorgeous products. I have some issues with a few critically placed business practices deep inside Apple’s business model, not with the overall company (or the ‘Apple Way’...).

As far as Apple licensing our connector design… Our connector is explicitly designed to be optimized to serve as a mechanically strong mounting point for an iPod in a high-vibration, high G-stress application. It does not use Apple’s proprietary side-pin locking mechanism, so, it is not within Apple’s intellectual property rights purview. Apple’s cultural arrogance in these matters aside, it would make more sense for Apple to do their own design work on any needed connector variant, rather than license ours. Specific product applications require specifically designed components. Ours is best for our product, not necessarily for any product Apple might create.

Posted by MacMice on February 8, 2005 at 10:59 PM (PDT)

46

Just a note of feedback for Mr. Horwitz. As only a casual visitor to this site - less than 3 times a month - my initial impression when reading your new editorial policy was that you would not review or discuss products that did not participate in this Apple branding program. I was disappointed as I thought this would compromise your credibility in coverage of products for iPods. There are plenty of places on the web where I can read Apple corporate press releases.

However, after reading your responses here, and following through the thread of comments, I see that your intentions were to apply a more “discerning standard” to coverage of products by companies that lack pay-for-play credentials like the Apple-branded program. Meaning: not a complete blacklist.

It is a subtle distinction, and not surprisingly, hard to communicate, so it would seem.  : ) 

So that’s not so bad. However, I am still slightly disturbed as a casual reader to see that a site which claims journalistic intentions is adopting such a stance. I would prefer, as your reader and a consumer, to make up my own mind about products. Which I can, trust me.

As journalists, I would expect your site to cover all topics without prejudice or overriding concern of Apple, and not to second guess my abilities. Ultimately, it is not your editorial policies or decisions that will protect me as a consumer - despite your claim - but rather, my own critical analysis. Which I would hope you would help to inform. So there are products that are dangerous and don’t work? Please do a round-up. Let me know what they are. Name names. You will perform a far greater service than simply forcing me to look elsewhere for the information.
Thanks for the forum.

Posted by Jasperjed in NY on February 11, 2005 at 4:43 AM (PDT)

47

A couple things to add - yes, some people may only purchase something labeled MADE FOR IPOD just as they might only purchase with the GOOD HOUSEKEEPING SEAL but I think most people realize that even if has the UL safety symbol, it might still catch fire under certain conditions but that under normal operating we are ‘relatively’ safe ... I don’t anyone is really presuming a 100% guarantee or certainly most people do not especially in the computer/software/ hardware area - we are ALL aware of incompatibilities.

We actually don’t have to look very far - if you go to Apple’s software guide, applications are labeled MADE FOR MAC. Obviously, there are differences between software and hardware ... but there are amny software applications that don’t met apple’s approval because of presumably legal reasons - they are not listed like (non-legal) DVD rippers and/or ipod to itunes copying software ... that doesn’t really seem to hurt their popularity much.

Posted by jbelkin on February 11, 2005 at 2:13 PM (PDT)

48

I agree with MacMice.

Posted by Fraggy in NL on February 13, 2005 at 12:06 PM (PDT)

49

apple = walmart

apple’s “made for ipod” doesn’t sit well with me, and i am not a lawyer, nor a ceo. i am just a consumer. apple just wants their slice of the action. they see all these innovative and creative companies making money (as a spin-off of their creative and innovative product), and now want their share. it’s not a move to ensure consumers buy quality products, but a move to license the ipod name (and make fee from it). this practice reminds me of walmart’s practices, forcing vendors and distributors to play by their (unfair) rules, or not play at all.

macmice, belkin and many others, all offer great products at fair prices. they have expanded on the ipod market by offering consumers products that we want. why limit them with restrictions and create an official designation?

if apple was honestly concerned about the “quality” they would be more lax with the qualifications of their designation, especially with company’s they should be working with, not against. flexibility is an admirable quality.

i agree with ipodlounge’s decision to be candid with their new policies. i am just generally wary of this new “program”.


one more thing:
if you buy a clone or knock-off and it ruins your ipod, that’s your fault. you spent $300 for an ipod, and bought a $2.50 connector…why cheap out on an accessory? if i bought a fake gucci watch on the street, and the band discoloured my wrist, that’s my fault, not the vendor. there is an understanding with knock offs…they’re FAKE (obviously this doesn’t apply to those who unwillingly purchase fakes, or companies that maliciously sell their products with the intent of capitalizing on another’s patent or design).

Posted by luisorantes in toronto on February 14, 2005 at 12:39 PM (PDT)

50

Having read through the new policy, my first thought was “They sold out to Apple”.  Whereas I’m the first to ask for objective, brutally honest reviews from independent enthusiast sites, this new policy does not do anything to increase my confidence that products will get honest reviews.  The policy makes it sound like if you don’t have the MFI seal, you already start out with a black mark against your product.

I also totally feel MacMice’s pain.  Those of you thinking that he is Apple bashing - get a grip:  If your company makes accessories for a device, would you bash that device.  I think not!

From what I’ve read so far from the only person that seems to have knowledge about the MFI program (MacMice), it looks like it is a protectionist program to allow Apple to dictate and set prices for accessories.  This is not what I need as a consumer!  And the new policy of iPodlounge sounds to me like it’s designed to play into this strategy. (Please note, I said “sounds to me” - this is the impression that I get from reading the policy, and is not a statement of fact.)

So I add my voice to the request for iPodlounge to do an independent investigation on the subtleties of the MFI program and honestly report on it.

Posted by kokketiel on February 17, 2005 at 4:12 AM (PDT)

51

I intend this to be my final comment on the subject for the time being, as I think the point has been made several times already, and hopefully enough time and reviews have passed that you can see how the policy has been applied to date.

There has been no bias against “unauthorized accessories,” no one-company kowtowing, or anything of the sort. There is no blacklist, specific limitation of coverage, or anything of that sort, either. Our reviews and coverage have continued uninterrupted, with precisely the same foci as before: quality, value, and competition. We continue to publish news on small and large companies, “authorized” and “unauthorized” products, etcetera.

As noted before, our only concerns were three in number: making our readers (including casual and corporate ones) aware of three disturbing accessory marketplace trends, publicly stating our policy on such trends, and hopefully in some small way preventing such trends from continuing.

Though the discussion here has focused myopically on the Made For iPod program, the e-mails we receive from iPodlounge readers (which outnumber the comments in this thread) are strongly focused on helping to stem the larger issues raised by the policy - namely their interest in seeing a stop to dangerous, cloned, and otherwise illicitly/offensively sold accessories.

Since the policy has been in effect, representatives of companies have publicly proved highly responsive to iPodlounge reader concerns on such issues (see, for example, our recent news story on the subject), and we have been quietly (but diligently) doing what we can behind the scenes to try and make things even better for iPod owners everywhere. Having the continued assistance and support of our readers has helped dramatically, and we thank those of you who have taken the time to comment both publicly and privately on the new policy.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 20, 2005 at 5:23 PM (PDT)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this section entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

Email:

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy