MacWorld reports Apple and iPod accessory vendors have confirmed that there's indeed an authentication chip in the headphones of the new iPod shuffle. This chip prevents companies to make headphones for the iPod shuffle without paying license fees to Apple.
iPod-accessory vendors V-moda and Scosche, as well as other vendors speaking to Macworld anonymously, have confirmed these reports, though calling the circuitry a “control chip” rather than an authentication chip. As with Apple’s dock connector and—more recently—proprietary circuitry necessary for iPods to output video signals to third-party accessories, Apple will charge vendors a fee, via the Made for iPod program, to include this new control chip in headphones and other accessories. In the past, vendors have told Macworld that such fees are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for iPod-compatible versions of common accessories.
An Apple spokesman confirmed the presence of the chip to Macworld. "As part of the Made for iPod program, we make sure that third party headphones work properly with the third generation iPod shuffle," the spokesman said.