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September 26, 2012

Planning to Buy a Spare Lightning Cable? You better Buy Apple's

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

It's common practice for many hardware owners, especially owners of portable hardware, to pick up a second charging cable for their devices lest the original model go missing and their device is rendered unusable. But for those considering picking up a third-party Lightning cable for their new iPhone 5, it would be best to consider again, as those unofficial cables won't put the charge in the device.

As it turns out, Apple (News - Alert) has made one critical addition to its own Lightning cables: an authentication chip, specifically designed to keep third parties from duplicating the charger by setting the chip right in the direct path of the V+ wire. 

Image via

Needless to say, third-party makers are already frantically trying to figure out the chip in question to see if it can be reverse-engineered. The early word, however, is that such a move may be difficult at best and downright impossible at worse. After all, some early reports cite, no one could ever crack the MFi program on digital Apple docks and the like, so it may be that this particular authentication chip is also packing an onboard code or the like that simply makes it too difficult to duplicate.

Under normal circumstances, this wouldn't be a huge problem, but Apple may well have shot itself in the foot with this bit of authentication. The current shipping times for the official Lightning cable are backlogged for as much as three weeks, meaning that, potentially, those who bought an iPhone (News - Alert) 5 at launch, but had an issue with their charger, may find themselves owners of a device rapidly on its way to becoming a brick until a fresh charger cable can be had.

Some may be all right with this. Early adopters have known for some time now that there are dangers inherent in their lifestyle, and lags and periods of uselessness in their devices are just part of the package. Yet considering this new problem, and the wide array of other choices out there, this may well prompt some returns of Apple hardware, or a move to other kinds of mobile devices in the future.

Apple does still have plenty of competitors, after all, and this move to shut down third-party charging cables may well turn sour for Apple. Already, some were distressed by the move to Lightning, as it left many of their accessories useless or requiring an adapter to function, so throwing this into the mix can't be helpful for Apple.

The long term effects of this move to add a layer of authentication to the Apple Lightning cable won't be known fully for some time, but there's a very real possibility that this particular Apple issue may do some damage in the long run.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, taking place Oct. 2-5, in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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