Apple Makes Lightning Expensive To Duplicate
October 3, 2012

Apple Makes Lightning Connector Harder, More Expensive To Duplicate

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Apple did more than upset many of their customers when they switched from the 9-year old 30-pin connector to the new, digital-hotness Lightning connector, they also made a few enemies around the third-party industry responsible for making accessories built around this adapter. It´s true, these 30-pin connectors and docks could be found everywhere: In cars, hotel rooms and just about any office or university. Changing this connector not only made these accessories unusable with the brand new iPhone 5, but it also ripped the Band-Aid off of a clearly visible wound.

The older connector was large, unwieldy and easy to break. Its size also kept the iPhone from shrinking any smaller than the 4S, and Apple clearly wanted to make the slimmest iPhone yet. Not just content to expose the wound, Apple went even further by charging as much as $30 for adapters which haven´t begun shipping yet. For $20, iPhone 5 users can purchase a second USB to Lightning cord for charging or syncing around the home and office. Frustrated, many iPhone 5 early adopters began looking elsewhere for cheaper cables, only to find more frustration and heartache.

Knock-off Apple products are a stalwart to the third-party industry, as many people are often in the market for cheap accessories, cases or docks. As Apple prefers complete control, they took steps with the new Lightning port to ensure that only those companies whom they chose would be allowed to create these accessories. In order to create these cables, it´s likely companies will have to pay a licensing fee to Apple, as well.

As pointed out in a September 21st article at, a teardown of the new Lightning cable revealed that Apple has placed a little tattletale chip of sorts inside. This means that only those cords and accessories with this chip (which companies will have to get exclusively from Apple) will work as Apple intended, assuming they´ll work at all.

While the exact details of this chip are as of yet unknown, it´s likely Apple has packed some sort of functionality into this chip to ensure the cords work the way they want them to.

Users have been able to find some third-party cables, like this one from a company called Alibaba.

According to Peter from Double Helix Cables, without this chip, no cord will be fully operational. Speaking to AppleInsider, Peter said of the Alibaba accessories, "There is basically no way those are functional cables.”

"You can't just build a Lightning cable by making something with the same shape and connectivity, and my teardown proves that. The chip has to be there“¦”

Peter also mentioned that users will not be able to construct their own Lightning hybrids at home, saying the cords are “very fragile” once the shielding is removed. With the shielding intact, however, these cords are “extremely tough,” said Peter.

A new article yesterday from CNN also quotes the unnamed owner of Double Helix Cables (could be Peter?) as saying, "Unlicensed knockoffs are going to happen eventually, but now there is even more of a reason to just use Apple's cable -- the circuitry is much more complex now and so there is a lot more to go wrong.”

At $20 and $30 apiece, Apple will likely protect this very lucrative business, said John Brownlee of Cult of Mac, speaking to CNN.

"Apple will crack down pretty hard on anyone it can who tries to rip off Lightning," predicts Brownlee.

"Lightning's sophistication should make it a lot harder for anyone to make a Lightning connector without paying a licensing fee, which is, of course, by design.”