The iPhone 5 has been on sale for nearly a month now, but we’re still yet to see any official third-party Lightning accessories. It’s not that accessory makers are slow at producing them, it’s that Apple is yet to finalize its Lightning policies and give manufacturers the go-ahead to use its new connector.
Fortunately, this is expected to happen next month. Apple will hold a conference in Shenzhen, China, between November 7 and November 8 with its Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFI) program partners to finalize its Lightning plans, according to a source “close to Apple’s accessory manufacturing partner.”
TechCrunch reports that the event will be similar to that held last year between December 7 and December 9, when Apple finalized its plans for AirPlay accessories and Bluetooth standards. According to their source, Apple will regulate the sale of Lightning connectors for MFI partners, and they won’t be cheap:
We’re also hearing that Apple will strictly regulate sales of Lightning connectors for MFI partners, and that the cost per part for those components, while not unreasonable, is fairly high compared to other widely-available standards like USB.
The source has also indicated that one of Apple’s rules will be that all Lightning pin supplies will be controlled by Apple itself, and that it will only supply approved MFI partners with the pin once their product has met the Cupertino company’s standards and specifications.
It appears Apple’s going to be pretty strict when it comes to Lightning accessories, then. However, it’s likely we’ll still see accessories from unapproved vendors. Chinese engineers have reportedly already cloned Apple’s Lightning chip successfully, so it won’t be long before unauthorized accessories begin making their way into the market.
Still, there is evidence that some companies are already ramping up to create off-brand Lightning cables at prices that undercut Apple’s, as one of our tipsters was able to negotiate a quote for volume orders of the same at between $10 and $12 per piece, with an estimated ship date or later this month.
It’s possible (likely?) these products will incur legal action from Apple, however, and if that’s the case, they could be confiscated by authorities at border checkpoints.
But if Apple does finalize its Lightning plans next month, and it gives vendors the authority to manufacture Lightning products, then we should see some official accessories before the lucrative holiday season. Manufacturers will no doubt be working hard to get their products out of the gate before the Christmas rush.