Following on from speculation that the new iPod shuffle has an authentication chip in its in-line remote as a means to force third-party manufacturers to pay a licensing fee in order to produce compatible headphones, Apple has finally decided to shed some light on the matter. Turns out, the chip is meant for use with the Made for iPod program alone and there is no encryption or authentication.
This means that clones can still be made just not with the official Apple certification. Those who want to sell sanctioned headphones will have to buy the chip from Apple, apparently for less than $1 in a bundle with a $2 microphone, and probably pass along the cost to consumers. But even though unofficial headphones will be allowed, the move gives Apple further control over third party accessories (and an extra revenue stream), seeing as eschewing Made for iPod certification could put products in disadvantage against competitors.