As time moves forward, so the battle between legitimate product producers and dodgy copy merchants heats up. In the latest engagement, Apple seems to have fired a rather clever broadside against the Chinese. KitGuru checks for a stable supply of (Apple) juice before investigating further.
When KitGuru interviewed an Apple employee in London, back toward the summer, we discovered that the tech giant was planning to move lock, stock and two smoking Cortex cores to the new Thunderbolt connector.
The interesting part about the move was that all of the accessories in the channel which used the old multi-pin Apple connector, would effectively be rendered useless overnight. Who would buy one of the old-style docking products when the world has just leapt forward in such a dramatic way?
Then the iPhone 5 appeared on the horizon and the Chinese copy cats began to get nervous. On the one hand, old stock would be worthless, but on the other hand, new connections meant new opportunities to sell.
On that basis, the Chinese factories ramped up production and are, presently, shooting tons of Apple-copy-kit out of their collective back doors.
But there’s a problem.
Sources close to KitGuru tell us that Apple is able to make alterations to the way the device interacts with any given Thunderbolt-style power connector – in such a way as to render any non-compliant device useless.
The word our source used was ‘frequency’, but it could be a subtle variation on that word that was simply lost in translation.
We all read reports in early September that Apple would include some kind of authorisation chip in its new products, but no one in the South China factories was expecting its implementation to be quite so destructive.
Essentially, low cost alternatives to ‘official Apple merchandise’ are being rendered useless with a simple software update.
If it’s true that this authorisation has now been enabled, then what Apple has done is a serious smack in the face for Far East factories that would seek to profit from the iPhone etc markets WITHOUT having an official license agreement.
It’s one thing to warn people that you are going to create a serious issue for 3rd party products, but quite another to let non-authorised factories ramp up to full production for ages, to fill their warehouses, the shipping lanes, local distribution and the resellers with unofficial kit – and then to render it all completely useless.
It’s clear that Apple’s primary target with this kind of action would be the factories who create products without Apple authorisation – but it will also have a huge impact on the channel as companies who were offering alternative products at a fraction of the cost, suddenly find they need to return EVERYTHING in their warehouse.
Lastly, it will impact legitimate Apple customers who invested all of their spare cash into the iPhone itself, only to find that the accessory they purchased with the pennies they had left over will no longer work.
KitGuru says: Let’s hope Amazon, eBay et al are ready for a serous amount of refunds and returns just before the Xmas holidays kick in. Pity anyone who’s bought a Thunderbolt device from a non-official source as a present for a loved one. If our source proves correct, then it’s gonna be Apple-flavoured tears on the 25th for many. Smart move by Apple or the actions of a tyrant?
Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.