The iPhone 15 lineup is expected to launch with USB-C. This transition has been welcomed by many, but now a surprising new leak claims it won’t be USB-C as you know it.
According to iPhone leak hub Weibo (via MacRumors), Apple plans to integrate a Lightning-like authenticator chip into the USB-C ports of all iPhone 15 models. expect this to add significant costs to all iPhone 15 accessories and potentially even constrain performance and functionality.
First introduced with Lightning in 2012, the authenticator chip confirms that accessories connected to the port have been licensed through Apple’s internal ‘MFi’ (made for iPhone/iPad) program. Royalties associated with MFi certification are not disclosed, but were previously reported as $4 per connector. Failure to obtain certification can result in reduced performance and even pop-up warnings on iPhones when accessories are connected – which is not good for the manufacturer.
Industry opinion has long argued that the control and financial benefits of the MFi Program meant that Apple would never adopt USB-C on the iPhone. But the integration of an authenticator chip into the port changes that, allowing Apple to comply with international law while maintaining an iron grip on accessory makers and licensing fees.
Furthermore, Apple would have a strong case for all this financial and functional control. Despite its 2014 release, bad USB-C cables can still be dangerous, so Apple might market the chip to protect you and your new iPhone 15. Afterwards, any manufacturer without an MFi license would seem to have something to hide.
It’s worth noting that Apple didn’t add an authenticator chip to the iPad or MacBook ranges when those lines moved to USB-C. Then again, these ranges don’t come close to generating the same revenue as iPhones, and they can always follow after the iPhone – arguably their stickiest product – gives way.
If the leak is correct, this will be another monetization masterstroke from Apple. Daring to be bolder than its rivals while likely earning kudos for protecting users. Well played, Apple, well played.
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