iPhone Accessory Failures: Blame Third-Party Manufacturers

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Recent complaints aimed at Apple about some of their accessories either not working or not charging on their iPhone can be laid at the feet of the third-party manufacturers, not Apple itself, according to Apple manufacturer, Mike Roe of Gecko Gear Australia.


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People who had the first generation of iPhone are complaining that the expensive accessories they bought for it are giving out warnings that their new iPhone 3G model must have its phone feature turned off in order to work correctly, and more importantly, that it does not charge their new iPhone when connected.

In order to recharge first-generation iPhones or iPods, consumers used either USB connectivity or a 12V connection that works through the Firewire portion of a pin connector. The new 3G iPhone only has USB connectivity, which means several accessories do not charge, making them virtually useless. Roe says there are two reasons why this could be happening; the manufacturer has made the product with no USB connectivity when they were warned well in advance by Apple that this was the only way the 3G iPhone could be charged, or they are still selling old stock, which do not meet Apple’s current specifications for the new 3G unit.

To understand the situation a little better, you have to take a step back, says Roe.
“When third-party manufacturers made applications for the iPod, they had to belong to the Made For iPod group. Once you belong to this group you can then apply for your accessory to be certified to the Works With iPhone standard, which means the iPod products can then be approved for use with the iPhone or 3G iPhone. Just because a product is iPod certified, doesn’t necessarily mean that product will be certified for the iPhone. In others words, not all iPod accessories can be used fully with the iPhone, however all that work with iPhone accessories will work with the current iPods.”

If an accessory goes through the Works With iPhone process it means it has passed stringent tests to make sure there is no interference with the signal and makes sure that emissions meet current standards.

 


If an accessory doesn’t work with an iPhone, you soon know about it. When connecting the accessory, the iPhone will ask if you wish to put it into airplane mode, whereupon all wireless connectivity is disabled. This is because the accessory is not certified to the Works With iPhone standard.

“The iPhone will most likely work fine with the device, but the iPhone’s connection to WiFi and to the carrier will be disconnected during use,” says Roe. “If the accessory does not charge the iPhone, then it would be fair to say that the accessory is “not compatible”. And it is here where the problem lies with the manufacturer.”

Some consumers might complain that the new phone should have been made with already existing applications in mind. That still doesn’t wash with Roe. He believes in order to evolve, you have to move on and not let previous versions hold back from creating new ones and it is up to manufacturers, and to a certain degree resellers, to inform the public which accessories are going to be compatible and those that are not.

However, he doesn’t let Apple off the hook completely. As a manufacturer there are problems. “If there has been one criticism of Apple,” says Roe, “it is the lead time – or lack thereof – that application manufacturers get to produce a new product. Apple is too tight-lipped, so we don’t get the specs until the product is released.” But at the end of the day, he says, “it is our choice to be in a business that is reliant on their product.”

While there are generic problems with iPods and iPhones (just do a google to see the type of problems that can occur with either product), they are not endemic with the products themselves. Consumers need to ask questions of the resellers when buying accessories, and if the shop assistants don’t know the answers, then do a physical check yourself, there and then. One thing is for sure, although Steve Jobs would argue the toss, nothing is perfect. Including Apple products.

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