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Apple has locked the video out functionality of its latest generation iPods, claim third party iPod dock manufacturers, which are now waiting to pay for an unlock chip to add to their products to allow the docks to transmit video from the iPod to a TV or large display.

Owners of an iPod introduced in September 2007 will find that if they use it with a docking system purchased before the launch of the new iPod range, they will not be able to use the video out feature.

Video out essentially allows you to play video stored on an iPod onto a connected TV or large display.

Now Apple requires manufacturers of iPod docks to insert an authentication chip into their products in order to unlock the video out capability.

New Australian-owned company Sieben Technologies entered the highly competitive iPod Dock market four months ago, with a new design-focused, full metal cast iPod dock.  The company is currently waiting to purchase the new chip in order to insert it into its second-generation product, expected to hit the market in 12 – 16 weeks.

Sieben Technology Business Development Manager Edward Farren-Price said, “Apple didn’t make it common knowledge for their Made for iPod partners. Though in fairness, even our Account Manager at Apple was unaware about the video out lock until the day of the iPod launch, so even people fairly high up weren’t informed early on.”

When questioned why Apple had decided to introduce the authentication chip, Farren said: “I’m just second-guessing here, but since Apple is venturing more into online movie rentals and downloads, I can see why they would want to protect that space.”

“I think they are also trying to clamp down on which third party manufacturers are within the Made for iPod arena, and prevent unlicensed iPod accessories,” he added.

 

Other suppliers of iPod docks such as Qualifi, the Australian distributor of Marantz and Jamo agree they will be affected by the new chip.

“Yes, this will very likely be a problem, as it may affect both our Jamo and Marantz video docks – not sure if Apple advised either of our suppliers, but it seems to affect other suppliers also,” said Qualifi’s Ralph Grundl.

Apple has yet to respond to our enquiry on this issue.


Click to enlarge
Sieben iPod Dock
Sieben advised that its current iPod dock is fully compatible with previous generation iPods, but with current iPods, users will not be able to use the video out function, though audio out is unaffected. The second generation product scheduled for launch in next three or four months will provide full functionality for the new iPods.

The company, which is trying to carve out a niche in the iPod accessories market, says its product is different to its competitors as it is the only company to offer a full metal-cast dock as opposed to the injection-moulded plastic of other manufacturers.

“The iPod is quite expensive and a good looking product. We wanted to make a dock that mirrored that design ethos. We decided not to go down the route of the speaker dock, as the sound quality can suffer. Our angle is people who have an iPod already have a quality hi-fi system and they want all their music in the one place and just plug it in and play,” said Farren.

Sieben is keen to keep consumers informed of the issues around their products, for example with the video out problem.

“Really, if consumers have a new iPod and wish to make use of the full functionality of our product, they are best to wait till our second-generation product. Owners of pre-September 2007 iPods, however, will have no issues with our current product,” concluded Farren.

The Sieben iPod Dock retails for $99 and is available at select Retravision stores.

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