Lightning Accessories to Remain Scarce as Apple Tightens Rules

| Rumor

Lightning Connector Third Party Accessories

Apple’s new Lightning interface for its iDevices may not easily reach the same level of robust third party support as its 30-pin Dock Connector predecessor. Sources speaking with iLounge Wednesday indicate that the Cupertino company is making significant changes to its “Made for iPad/iPhone/iPod” (MFi) policies that will make it more difficult for third parties to create Lightning compatible accessories and devices.

According to iLounge’s sources, only Apple-approved facilities will be allowed to produce Lightning cables and accessories, a strict limit that was not present in Apple’s Dock Connector licensing agreements. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that Apple has yet to approve any facilities, resulting in a noticeable dearth of Lightning accessories for millions of new iPhone owners.

Initial examination of the Lightning connector shows that it is far more sophisticated than its predecessor, and features dynamic pin assignment and authentication abilities.

Due to these advanced functions, it is presumed that Apple wishes to ensure the highest possible quality among contributors to its third-party ecosystem. One source correspondingly notes that the company is planning a “MFi seminar” for third parties, where it will outline the manufacturing process and rules for Lightning accessories.

This seminar is reportedly scheduled for November and will be held in China, the well-known hub of electronics and accessory manufacturing. However, such a delay in producing Lightning accessories suggests that holiday shoppers won’t have much to choose from when it comes to iDevice-focused gifts.

Apple was quick to point out during the iPhone 5’s launch in September that the entire mobile accessory ecosystem has changed since the introduction of the 30-pin Dock Connector. Although not yet universal, strong support for Apple’s AirPlay technology has reduced the need for users to rely on physical speaker docks, and the introduction of Wi-Fi iTunes syncing, over-the-air software updates, and iCloud media management means that many iDevice users will never have to plug their device into a computer.

Most users will instead miss the ubiquitous 30-pin Dock Connector for convenient charging. Apple currently sells relatively expensive Lightning to USB cables and Lightning to Dock Connector Adapters, but shortages of both items have been reported, leaving many users with only the included Lightning cable as a means of charging their iPhones.

Apple’s relationship with third party MFi accessory manufacturers has been a strong and mutually beneficial one. Apple’s customers no doubt hope that the same quality of relationship will eventually arise for Lightning as the company transitions all of its mobile products to the new interface.

[via CNET]

Popular TMO Stories



At the end of June 2009, the European Commission started a movement to make micro-USB the standardized charging port for cellphones. It was subsequently backed by roughly 90% of the cellphone market holders, with Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung (among others) all agreeing to the standardization.  (From a Dec 2010 EC press release)

So what happened to that?

Dave Hamilton

Honestly, my guess on this is that Apple looked deeper at micro-USB and realized those connectors don’t last. They’re flimsy, and they wear out really quickly. As soon as they realized that, I bet they never looked back.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Dave, I have a slew of devices with micro-USB and haven’t run into the female side of that connection wearing out. I have bent up the male side a couple times. One got caught in the seat bracket of my truck, another stepped on. Total cost to replace: < $10.

With Apple, it’s about getting 15% of every dollar connected to iDevices. No other explanation needed.

Paul S

Petition Apple to relax their policies of greed and provide a free adapter for every iPhone 5 owner:


A micro-USB connection for charging only (which would have enable OTA syncing and backup) would have been very nice to have.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account