New Shuffle: New DRM

This is from iLounge’s review of the new Shuffle:

There is, however, something that many users will care about: the new shuffle doesn’t fully work with any headphones except Apple’s. Because of what Apple has done here—something sneaky and arguably terrible for consumers, especially if it continues with other iPod and iPhone products in 2009—if you plug your old third-party headphones of any sort into the new shuffle, you’ll find that you can’t do anything with the device other than have it continuously play music, without volume controls or interruption, unless of course of you turn it off. Surprise: the only third-party headphones that will work are ones that haven’t even entered manufacturing yet, because they’ll need to contain yet another new Apple authentication chip, which will add to their price. Your only alternatives will be third-party remote control adapters—also not yet available, as Apple’s not even making one—and using Apple’s earphones. The prices for the third-party adapters will be no less than $19, and quite possibly more like $29; compatible headphones announced thus far start at $49.

For the time being, what this means is that one or more pairs of earphones that you’d like to use for other purposes—running, indoor workouts, or just casual listening—will be generally useless with the shuffle. All you can do is turn on the shuffle and hope that the volume and song that play through the headphone port are acceptable to you.

This is, in short, a nightmare scenario for long-time iPod fans: are we entering a world in which Apple controls and taxes literally every piece of the iPod purchase from headphones to chargers, jacking up their prices, forcing customers to re-purchase things they already own, while making only marginal improvements in their functionality? It’s a shame, and one that consumers should feel empowered to fight.

Horrible. Just horrible.

And laced with hypocrisy: as Apple is stripping DRM from the music it sells in the iTunes Store, the company continues to add it to its hardware – and for the same reason the labels had DRM on their tracks for so long: control and income.