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Apple tightens MFi rules, stalls 3rd-party Lightning add-ons
By Phil Dzikiy | 10.03.12

Following up on prior reports that Apple had not made Lightning connectors available to developers, multiple reliable sources have confirmed to iLounge that Apple has made significant changes to its Made For iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies, tightening control over the manufacturing of Lightning accessories. According to the sources, only Apple-approved manufacturing facilities will be allowed to produce Lightning connector accessories, even including third-party accessories. Moreover, Apple hasn’t approved any factories yet, which the sources say will limit the number of Lightning accessories available in the near future.

One source notes that Apple is planning an MFi “seminar,” where it will discuss changes to the program and the rules for Lightning accessory development going forward. The seminar will be held in November in China, notes the source, after the point at which third-party Lightning accessories could be manufactured in time for holiday sale. Sources have further noted that the Lightning connector has proved difficult to copy, reducing the near-term likelihood of unauthorized third-party connector cables.

Notably, Amazon orders for a third-party “iTronz” Lightning Adapter offered in September have now been canceled, with the vendor citing a “very critical functional issue.” An e-mail from Amazon made reference to authentication chips found in the Lightning connector, initially citing a 20-25 day shipment delay. The vendor subsequently ceased sales altogether.

Updated Oct. 17: The seminar is scheduled for Nov. 7-8, according to a TechCrunch report. The report also notes Apple will strictly regulate sales of Lightning connectors for MFi partners, and that Apple will control the supply of Lightning pins — it will only supply partners with the pins when their products meet Apple’s specifications and standards.

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Starting to feel like Apple miscalculated here. With the dock connector, you had a standard that dated back nearly a decade, had hundreds of millions of devices that could potentially use any accessory built around it, and that market share momentum has allowed Apple to dominate the shelf space for accessories for years. All of a sudden, Android devices with their ubiquitous micro USB connectors are now the ones with all the market share momentum going forward. All the while, Apple tries to convince everyone why they should be lining up to jump through even more hoops and pay even higher licensing fees than before, and then convince stores why they should dedicate a lot of shelf space to niche accessories which won’t even have a dominant share even in the Apple market for a couple of years and never become dominant in portable entertainment again.

By Code Monkey on 10.07.12 at 11:18 AM

Is there some site I can go to inorder to find a list of factories that hold a mfi license so I can source easier?

By larry sloven on 10.11.12 at 01:28 AM

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