Confirmed: iPod chip is available only from Apple, amounts to hardware lock-in [UPDATE]

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Maybe it’s the BBQ I just had on the Meatbus or something else but I’m not as up in arms about this as I was yesterday. But I’m still kind of miffed. BBG has confirmed that the secret 8A83E3 chip found inside the iPod Shuffle’s headset is actually an Apple-only chip used for transmitting audio or key clicks and is not available anywhere else.

While this isn’t technically DRM, it does force hardware lock-in and forces users to use and purchase only Apple-approved headsets and in-line controls.

That said, a three-button in-line remote could have been easily implemented by Apple without a microcontroller. While the in-line remote is simply an added convenience in most iPods, the iPod Shuffle has no controls on the device itself. To control the latest iPod, customers have no other choice but to use headphones made by manufacturers who have purchased a licensed authorization chip from Apple.</blockquote

Generally this sort of thing doesn't effect very many people – basically only manufacturers who want to sell accessories – but to be so egregious is quite galling. They could have put this chip into the device itself but instead they hid the little bugger inside the headphones, ensuring that nothing else works with the Shuffle except official headphones.

UPDATE iLounge explains:

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.

So it’s all OK!

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