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Apple could take control of third-party accessory boxes

Apple is reportedly planning by next week to only sell accessories that are in packaging co-designed by the iPhone maker.

Apple Stores will soon have fewer, similar-looking accessories, according to a report. Apple

The third-party accessories sitting in Apple retail stores across the world may soon look awfully similar, according to a new report.

Apple has been quietly working with several companies that make accessories for its products, including Logitech, Life Proof and others, to design new boxes that would house those firms' products, 9to5Mac reported on Monday after receiving a note Apple sent to employees. Starting as early as next week, only those companies that have worked with Apple and have approved packaging will be allowed to sell their products in Apple retail stores, the report claims.

It's unknown whether the companies will provide different packaging at the other retail outlets where they sell their products.

The brick-and-mortar phenomenon

Apple's brick-and-mortar stores have become a retail phenomenon. The company has over 450 stores worldwide and generates billions of dollars in revenue for the company. In 2013, Apple noted that over 1 million people were going to its retail stores each day -- a figure that is likely much higher now, considering the dozens of additional stores that have opened since then.

While retail stores are a major driver for Apple's revenue, that kind of foot traffic and the popularity of the company's products have likely proven important to third-party companies that sell accessories in its stores. Apple's retail stores, which tend to be much smaller than massive big-box stores like Best Buy, are often packed with consumers. For much smaller companies like Logitech or Life Proof to get into an Apple retail store to sell their wares means putting products in front of many consumers they may not otherwise get access to.

Playing by Apple's rules

But as history has shown, partnering with Apple means, at times, playing by the company's rules. For instance, app developers who want to offer their third-party programs in its App Store must follow a series of regulations, including ensuring that the app is useful and not "creepy," and doesn't include content or behavior that Apple considers "over the line." The music industry has long lamented Apple's iron-like grip over its iTunes store. All the while, Apple has argued that it has not only acted fairly with third-parties, but is acting in the best interests of consumers who want a particular experience.

In the case of accessories, Apple is reportedly trying to clean up the way its stores look to make them more unified in their design. Currently, when Apple customers walk into its stores, they'll find a slew of accessories toward the back of the retail outlet. While some of those accessories are made by Apple, many are developed by third-party companies. The accessories range from iPhone cases to wireless speakers that can project music from an iPhone.

A common look across the store

Over the last several months, Apple has been working with many of those third-party accessory makers to create packaging that looks similar to the iPhone maker's own packaging, according to the report. Accessory makers must have packaging that is nearly all white to match the boxes for the Mac and iPhone, and include "simpler fonts," the Apple-watching site claims. Better packaging materials and improved images of the accessories are also required.

Companies that fail to adhere to those guidelines will no longer be allowed to sell their products in Apple's retail stores, according to the report. The regulation could go into effect as early as next week.

When the rule goes into effect, Apple stores will reportedly have far fewer available accessories. The company will then add more third-party accessory providers as time goes on, according to the report.

The change would be just the latest change to the look and feel of Apple's retail stores. With the launch of Apple Watch, the company rejiggered its store design a bit, adding cases where people could check out and try on its wearable.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.