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Apple Licensees: Partners In Profit And Pain

Some audio suppliers are really chafing under the Kremlin-like secrecy that surrounds Apple’s new-product plans. Maybe it’s good business to keep the competitors guessing, but Apple’s partners complain they’re suffering collateral damage in the smartphone and tablet wars.

The latest example was Apple’s switch to an 8-pin all-digital connector. Here’s what one docking-speaker supplier told me:

“I don’t mind it being said that Apple has really hurt its licensees, seemingly don’t care about us, by changing their connections with no prior information for us to plan a transition – other than rumors which caused us to go in several directions – none of which were really right. Also, their technical will-allow/won’t-allow information came out in pieces for weeks after the Lightening models were announced.

“I had thought that surely Apple would provide an adapter solution, and they have, except it can only be bought from Apple at $30. Why would they not allow owners of 30-pin connectable stock to acquire the adapters at least to appease our 30-pin consumers who really need them?

“Having said that, 30-pin is not dead. I would be interested in an industry estimate of how many are out there still to be sold by retailers and also by sellers to same?

“We have already seen a drop in 30-pin purchases even though our 8-pin systems, along with almost all others who have/will have them, are not yet shipping. Because of the number of 30-pin devices which, according to some reports, are still thankfully selling well, those docking speakers will have a life (although less) for a while.

“It remains to be seen how many Lightening-connector docking systems will be sold – partly because so many of us are developing plays-with-Bluetooth [digital-media speakers that] charge all smartphones with 1-amp A USB.”

What do you have to say about Apple’s relations with its marketing partners?