The new iPod shuffle — so small that it doesn’t have room for control buttons on the case — was only released last week. But it’s stirring up controversy already.


Seems that Apple is requiring all third-party accessories for the device incorporate a special ‘authentication’ chip which must be licensed from Apple, for a fee.

This means that users of the Shuffle will have to use only genuine Apple or Apple-approved headsets. And the cost of the licensing program will, of course, be passed on to consumers.

The average price of third party headsets for the new shuffle, released at almost the same time as the tiny music player itself, is hovering around (US)$50. That’s pretty steep compared to what non-apple headsets for previous Shuffle versions cost. Apple adapters for non-chip-equipped third party head sets — if ofered — are excpected to cost anywhere from (US)$20 to (US)$30.

Aggravated bloggers are calling it an Apple cash grab. iLounge Editor-In-Chief Jeremy Horwitz asks, in his official review of the new Shuffle:

Are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase, from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to repurchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality?

As for the overall appeal and usability of the new headsets…

Those headphones — specifically, the fact that they require the user to learn and use an integrated three-button remote control — are the new iPod shuffle’s single biggest Achilles’ heel. They needlessly and foolishly complicate a device that was originally designed to be Apple’s easiest to use, forcing the user to learn a series of tricks to coax the shuffle to skip, fast forward, or rewind tracks, or even to reveal its current battery life: it is, in sum, the Microsoft-like opposite of the Apple we once knew, making users adapt to a product’s quirky interface rather than designing the interface for a great user experience.

The new Shuffle goes for (US)$79, holds up to 1,000 tunes.

One Response to New ‘Apple tax’ on new Shuffle

  1. Evolving Squid
    Mar 16, 2009

    Don’t own an iPod (gave mine back to Beth who gave it to me). Won’t own an iPod. When I want to join a Borg collective, I’ll install Chrome and the various Google tools. They’re free, at least.

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