Inside The Chip Apple Uses To Stop You Buying Cheap Cables

People looking for cheap, third-party lightning adapters and cables for their new iPhone 5 are out of luck because of an authenticator device hidden in the official products. Here's what's lurking within that infuriating piece of technology.

Chipworks has torn right into a Lightning-to-USB cable, and found a total of four chips lurking within the cable: two of them simple, just a couple of transistors apiece, and two more complex. But one of them, made by Texas Instruments, has really caught its eye.

The chip in question is a TI BQ2025, and it's not documented on a single Texas Instruments data sheet. No worries, though, because Chipworks knows its stuff and has taken a very close look indeed at the silicon. The findings? It's consistent with a communication chip employing some "simple security features". Chipworks explains:

The security does not come close to the herculean approaches that are used in (for example) today's printer cartridges, but resembles the level of effort that cartridge manufacturers used to implement in the olden days. This is likely a calculated decision by Apple to keep costs to a minimum knowing that their core customer base prefers to shop in Apple stores or for brand name peripherals. In these places, piracy is not a concern. In other words, at this time the security is "just enough."

In other words, the technology will only serve to delay third-party cable manufacturers, rather than stopping them from making replacements altogether. That's good new for cash-strapped iPhone 5 users everywhere — you just need to be patient. [Chipworks via Apple Insider]


Comments

    "The Chip Apple Uses To Stop You Buying Cheap Cables"
    That kinda says it all when it comes to Apples mentality towards it most loyal customers, doesn't it? Suck as much money out of them as you can, cos... well we need the money...

      How would you like people blaming your product for the problems cheap, 3rd party accessories have caused? As if Apple could tell if someone was using a faulty 3rd party accessory or their own accessory, they'll never know what really caused the problem. Now you have no choice.

        How about the consumer decides what's junk or not. Just like it is with most things you buy; you do your homework and learn what is to be avoided.

    Try as anyone might to spin this as "good" for consumers, there's no denying that this is a d**k move by Apple. The sole purpose of this chip is to stop you from buying an alternative cable that does the exact same thing for a heck of a lot cheaper!

    The problem is, it's not just cables and things apple make, it's stuff like car kits etc that can't be produced for who knows how long.

    Corporate Greed
    Such a disgustingly wasteful and unsustainable organization

    If Microsoft did this, they would be in court for being anticompetitive by the FTC.

    I like using Apples products and all, but seriously.. is there no limit to their greed? It's not like they need the extra money.

    There should be laws in place forcing companies to abide by international communication standards. eg USB. There is no benefit to the customer over using a lightning connector as opposed to a micro USB.
    I'm extremely thankful that pretty much every new non-apple device uses standard USB connections. Even if some of them are older mini-USBs.
    The next step would be for everyone to standardise the location of USB connectors so that Docks and car kits could be universal. But that's probably asking a bit too much.

    Doesn't this possibly breach some competative consumer laws? i.e. your being forced to use a product by a company without a reasonable alternative, I admit no one is forcing you to buy the phone but you are being forced to use something the apple makes and theoretically can charge whatever they like as there is no competition on the market for it.

    So when YOU invent a product that becomes a widespread success remember to make sure that you put all your designs into the public domain and let everyone else make money from it. But make sure you continue to innovate and release new products to a fickle marketplace.

    It's a dick move from Apple but I understand it - if you buy into their ecosystem then you're forced to buy from them. It's all about controlling the supply chain from top to bottom.

      You condone practices that FORCES you to buy a marked up product and is designed to provide difficulties to other manufactures who would be able to make an identical product for cheaper. You must have more dollars than sense.

    One minute giz is spouting that the "authentication" chip will stop everyone from making cheap cables. Then the next they're posting stories about compatible cables coming from people other than apple (mic I believe).
    As for the greed, I call bullshit, apple have been doing things their own way since forever. ADB, then USB, skipping on floppies because they believed they were obsolete, and now CDs.
    Yes things are shaky, but there will be knockoffs galore. No apple isn't doing it to gouge you out of pocket. Look how much they charge for their own 30pin cables. Surprise they're the same price as the new lightning cables.
    Maybe they should of gone with micro USB. But IMHO its ugly and I've never really truly trusted the connections on some of my devices. The lightning connector? Rock solid.

      You'are right, apple aren't greedy scum
      They're actually a rebellious company who play by their own rules. Who cares if its inconvenient to their consumers because they're hip and free spirited

    And wouldn't the cost of this chip push up the price of the official cables themselves?

      Yeah...by like at least 20 or 30 cents. Hoo boy, what will we do?

      At least they are not charging $149 for a HDMI cable:

      http://www.jbhifi.com.au/tv-lcd-led-plasma/accessories/belkin/prohd-2000-series-3m-hdmi-cable-sku-58628/

    "cash-strapped iPhone 5 users"

    Only because they bought the phone... If a phone eats that much into your budget, perhaps you bought the wrong one?

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