Apple blocks un-authorized headphones for the iPod Shuffle: Good move or bad move?

Sun, Mar 15, 2009

Analysis, News

iLounge is reporting that Apple’s latest incarnation of the iPod Shuffle will only work on third party headphones that contain an authentication chip.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing?  Here are 2 takes:

Apple, what the @#$% are you thinking?!

Seriously Apple?  Given that the navigation controls for the iPod Shuffle are now on the headphones themselves, the pool of usable headphones is already smaller right from the get go.  And requiring companies to pay for the right to create iPod Shuffle compatible headphones will only further dillute the number of options users can choose from.  And oh yeah, the extra licensing costs will inevitably be passed onto the consumer.  All this hoopla for a $79 iPod Shuffle?  Are you kidding me?  Here’s a newsflash: Not everone likes Apple’s standard issue headphones, and for those looking for a cheap MP3 player, the iPod shuffle all of a sudden seems a lot more expensive when you throw in $50 third party headphones into the mix.

Apple is just protecting the consumer

There was a time, believe it or not, when all headphones did was transmit music from a device to a listeners ear.  Apple’s new iPod shuffle, however, makes headphone design and functionality a key part of a customer’s user experience, and that’s one thing Apple will never compromise on.  Apple’s standard issue iPod Shuffle headphones provide a simple and intuitive way for users to navigate between songs and playlists, and will even “speak” which song and artist is currently playing.

With that in mind, it’s in the interest of users for Apple to ensure that any iPod Shuffle compatible headphones are up to par with Apple’s standards.  Think about it this way:  In the past, if you had crappy headphones, you blamed the headphones.  With the new iPod Shufle, however, a shoddy pear of third party headphones with clunky controls will dillute the user experience, and the blame will fall squarely on Apple’s shoulders.  By blocking out un-authorized headphones, Apple is merely trying to protect customers from third rate products.  What’s the harm in that?  Since when did ensuring top-notch usability become a bad thing?


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4 Comments For This Post

  1. John Says:

    Seriously. Apple headphones doesn’t have a really nice quality. In which I prefer to use other headphones that I really feel comfortable with. They should re-think this. It’s probably going to cause their sales to decline.

  2. Snafu Says:

    Do you REALLY believe that? Do you really think that the concept of “authorized headphones” deserves any respect at all?

  3. tribecom Says:

    Way to jump the gun on what is at best a questionable theory. There are several better ideas as to what the chip is rather than what you’re assuming, and with no clear idea it’s stupid to speculate and go off on a rant like you’ve done.

  4. lowellfield Says:

    I enjoy blog comments that scold bloggers for engaging in speculation.

    I think the fact that there are no buttons on the Shuffle itself makes for a pretty good case that their headphones are more an integrated part of the device than an accessory.

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