Random Thoughts – Randocity!

iOS7: Lightning Cables vs Consumer — Who Wins?

Posted in Apple, botch, corruption by commorancy on September 25, 2013

There’s this really annoying error message that you might see if you’ve bought a third party Lightning cable and you try to use it on your iPhone under iOS7.  The error message reads “This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work reliably with this iPod” (or iPhone or iPad or whatever).  Let’s explore what this means.

Consumer Penalized

Lightning ErrorLet’s start simple.  You bought a Lightning cable and expected it to work. Within each Lightning cable there’s a unique identifier that an Apple device can read.  It then compares the identifier to some kind of database within the iDevice to see if Apple ‘blessed’ the cable. Basically, any company producing Lightning connector cables must license the technology from Apple.

I’m fine with licensing. But, that’s a legal distinction between the cable manufacturer and Apple. The consumer should not be involved in this fight.  Yet, here we are.  This battle is being waged on you, the Apple consumer.  You’re penalized for having bought an ‘unlicensed’ cable. Unfortunately, unlicensed cables don’t specifically come with a warning stating that they are not licensed.  So, the consumer is buying blind when buying cables. There is no way to know if a cable is licensed or not.  At least, not without an Apple device that tells us so.

Apple’s missteps

With the old big dock connectors, the devices were able to recognize unsupported accessories or cables and warn. And, they did. Those cables also had a method to do validation checks similar to this Lightning validation error message.  Again, I’m fine with that as long is tells me immediately after I purchase a cable and plug it in. If it doesn’t work immediately after purchase, I can return cable immediately. No money lost.

Unfortunately, Apple waited all through iOS6 and the iPhone 5 allowing use of the Lightning connector without ANY warning. Instead, they waited until iOS7’s release to warn the consumer and even prevent some cables from working AT ALL. Yes, that’s what this error message actually means.  It means that Apple has detected an unlicensed cable and in some cases will warn that it either cannot use it or warns you that it may not work.  Apparently, that warning message may warn for a number of times before permanently disabling the cable’s use.

While these cables worked perfectly fine with iOS6, some of them don’t work at all to either charge the device or for data transfer under iOS7.  Some of the cables do work, but possibly for only a short time.  But, this isn’t the point.  If the cables worked perfectly fine under iOS6, they will also work perfectly fine under iOS7.  This means that Apple is deliberately and intentionally preventing these cables from working.

Waited Too Long

Error 2

The huge misstep is that Apple waited over a year to warn consumers.  And when something is finally given to us, it’s not a friendly notice.  The device simply prevents some cables from outright working. Keep in mind that that’s a year of time that many people spent money buying many of these cables. Cables that can no longer be returned and can no longer be used.  Apple has waged war on you, the consumer. They are not waging war on the manufacturer who produced ‘unlicensed’ cables.  This action is actually causing monetary damages to the consumer for the lost money spent to purchase the cables. Some cables that previously worked no longer work and the consumer cannot return them nor can these cables be used.

Apple has effectively just slapped its very user base in the face and said, ‘F-you’.  I can’t imagine any other company doing this in this way.  At least give your users  some advance warning this is coming.  Don’t just do it, tell no one and expect us all to sit here all nice and happy.  It’s not my problem that manufacturers are making ‘uncertified’ cables. That’s your problem, Apple.  You need to take those manufacturers to court. Don’t penalize your paying consumers because you don’t think the cables should work.

And note, the cable I purchased is a retractable cable.  I only bought it because there was no other retractable Lightning cable on the market when I purchased. If Apple had produced one, I’d have bought it from Apple.

Class Action Lawsuit

I can easily see this turn into a class action lawsuit against Apple.  As a consumer, we had no way to know the cable wasn’t licensed until the warning message, a warning message that showed up over a year late. And, in fact, iOS7 doesn’t even state the cable is unlicensed, it states that it’s not certified. As a consumer, that’s not my problem.  I bought the cable, it worked.  iOS6 didn’t warn me of this problem and it continued to work.  Now, Apple is telling me that that cable can no longer work with my device even though it worked perfectly fine with the same exact device for many months prior to iOS7.

Plain and simple, consumers have now lost money paid for these cables. Apple is to blame. If they had enforced this policy from the beginning, this wouldn’t be an issue. Because they didn’t, consumers are now literally paying the price as Apple intentionally stops these cables from working even though they are perfectly usable cables.

I’d really like to see an attorney sue the crap out of Apple for this behavior and force Apple to redress all of us consumers’ for our money that we’ve lost because Apple sat on its fat butt not saying anything. Apple just sat there letting consumers buy more and more unlicensed cables. Then, after letting consumers buy these cables for a year, they lay the whammy down and stop the cables from working right now.

Now many of us have dead cables that we can’t use, can’t sell and that we spent good money on.  And many of these cables were not cheap and were not marked as not licensed.  At minimum, Apple should be required to cable swap all consumer purchased now non-working unlicensed Lightning cables for an Apple licensed cable so we’re not out any money.  It’s not the consumer’s fault Apple didn’t warn the consumer properly. It’s also not the consumer’s fault the manufacturer sold us an unlicensed cable. That fight is clearly between Apple and the cable manufacturer. Apple, take your fight to where it belongs.. between you and the manufacturer. Don’t take it out on the very customer that you depend upon to keep you in business. Not a smart move.

As a consumer, I simply want a fully working retractable cable without stupid warning messages or I want my money back. Apple, you clearly owe me a replacement cable for waiting a year to warn me thus losing my ability to return the cable.

6 Responses

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  1. Abd ul-Rahman Lomax said, on September 17, 2014 at 2:13 am

    My iPhone finally completely disabled unlicensed cables. Apple has made the cables much more expensive than necessary in order to be able to *later* prevent unlicensed manufacture and use, and it is obvious that the cables are disabled deliberately, not because they don’t provide power or connection, but because they are unlicensed. I love the iPhone, but I will never again buy an Apple product unless they fix this. And, yes, I’d join a class-action suit in a flash. This is very clearly in restraint of trade, with no sustainable excuse.


    • commorancy said, on September 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Disabling of the cables is entirely based on the cable type and how often you’ve tried using it as I’ve heard. It’s also possible that with each new iOS release, Apple is slowly disabling the cables across the board. And yes, its a random maneuver simply because the company making the cable hasn’t ‘licensed’ it. Though, it’s not as if any non-Apple brands ever display whether they have licensed from Apple or not. It’s also very frustrating that there’s nothing that can be done here.


      • Abd ul-Rahman Lomax said, on September 22, 2014 at 5:10 am

        And I’ve found that cables that are shut out are later allowed. There are tricks that get the phone charging. Shutting off power with the cable connected and the uncertified message dismissed, the phone charges while off. Other times the cable just works, then it doesn’t. The excuse of possible damage to phones applies to AC-to-DC converters, not cables, which should not be able to ever damage a phone whether broken or shorted. I’m afraid to upgrade to iOS8 because they may have incorporated stronger measures. There is something I can do: not buy any more Apple products until this is fixed. And I predict a successful class-action suit here. There is a lawyer taking names. http://www.seegerweiss.com/news/apple_i_phone_5_lightning_to_usb_cable_charger_cable_failing_prematurely. That is not stated as the same issue, but it’s close enough. I bought replacement cables because my Apple cable failed.


  2. manaleek said, on November 19, 2013 at 4:24 am

    Good to know that…Finally someone has raised this issue…Apple is so greedy .


    • James Black said, on April 8, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      So when does the class-action for this start? Clearly it’s a valid case. Apple has disabled perfectly working cables. I want my money back on those.


      • commorancy said, on April 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        Hi James,

        I do not know if or when a lawyer may step up to this case. It takes a lawyer willing to bring a lawsuit against Apple. It also takes that same law firm to convert it to class action and then discover cable owners who were affected. As a result, it’s on the law firm to discover affected consumers and try to rope them in. To date, no law firm has approached me about this article or about a class action lawsuit. Though, I’d be perfectly fine were some law firm to want to take action. But, until that happens, this article remains just an article.



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