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Apple's Lightning connector guidelines for 'Made For iPhone/iPod/iPad' detailed by Mophie

Third-party accessory maker Mophie on Thursday offered some interesting particulars about Apple's MFi initiative as it pertains to the preprietary Lightning connector, saying that the company is going to great lengths to protect its investment in the new I/O protocol.


Teardown of Apple's Lightning connector shows authentication chip.

Speaking to The New York Times, Mophie's Vice President of Marketing Ross Howe explained the process third-party manufacturers must go through in order to gain official "MFi" status.

Upon applying for the program, the accessory maker orders a Lightning connector component from Apple which can be used for product design. The supplied connector sports serial numbers and, as first reported by AppleInsider, an embedded authentication chip that can be used tie manufacturers to each component. When an accessory comes in to Apple for testing, the company can quickly reference the serial number or authenticator to see where the Lightning component originated.

“If you took this apart and put it in another product and Apple got a hold of it, they’d be able to see it’s from Mophie’s batch of Lightning connectors,” Howe said.

The strict component control allows Apple to keep a tight grip on aftermarket accessory royalties, as well as maintain a consistent user experience. Howe admitted that the Lightning connector can be reverse engineered, but pointed out that the resulting product would most likely be of lesser quality than Apple-approved devices.

“That’s one thing Apple is good at: controlling the user experience from end to end,” he said. “If you’re buying something in an Apple store, it’s gone through all this rigorous testing.”

Further, the control measures give Apple the power to issue software updates that would disable the use of unauthorized products.