([UPDATE:] This post was written with the information Technologizer had at the time. Since then, we’ve learned a bit more. Please reference this new post from Harry.)
The “Apple tax” has been somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek joke in the tech world for a long time: where the consumer pays a higher price for a product simply because it bears the Apple logo.
Well, that concept may be coming to Shuffle headphones as well. Amid giving the Shuffle its first-ever “no” recommendation for an iPod/iPhone product, Apple enthusiast site iLounge also dropped a bombshell: Shuffle headphones are essentially DRM protected.
iLounge claims that the headphones add some type of ”authentication chip,” which means that standard headphones will not work with the device. Obviously they wouldn’t, since all the navigation is done via the iPhone-like pushbutton device on the right earbud wire.
But if third-party headphones add playback controls but don’t have this chip, they won’t work either. That means no volume, no voiceover, and no navigation. Nada. You’re S.O.L. To make them work, iLounge says a $20-30 to-be-manufactured adapter is needed, or approved headphones, which so far are no cheaper than $49.
Seeing on my end how easily those headphones short circuit at the pushhbutton unit causing them to malfuction on my iPhone, this should be something Apple users should be concerned with. If they bring this technology to other devices, God knows owning an iPod will become more expensive.
I’ve played with the Shuffle. And frankly, my experience was nothing like Harry’s, and more like iLounge’s. I struggled to get the thing to move from track to track–instead i was nearly blowing out my eardrums cause the volume was getting louder. Count me in as one of those who prefer their controls on the device.
I was watching others in the Apple store with me. Quite a few were having trouble with it. I really do see this Shuffle as the iPod line’s version of the Cube–kinda cool idea, but just not necessary.