We have received word that Apple will indeed offer certification for iPhone accessories as previously speculated. This development was not unexpected, as there have long existed certification and royalty requirements for accessories that carry the "Made for iPod" label. However, it appears that requirements for iPhone-certified accessories will be more stringent than for the iPod, and use of non-certified accessories may be grounds for violation of the device's warranty.
Based on information from sources who wish to remain anonymous, certification for iPhone devices will have to be performed by authorized labs chosen and approved by Apple with expenses falling on the accessory maker. This is in contrast to the iPod certification process, which simply requires that accessory makers use Apple-licensed connection components, and individually certify that their add-ons will not damage the iPod.
The "Made for iPod" program was introduced in early 2005, and was met with a mixed response from accessory manufacturers. Some saw it as a boon for their now Apple-endorsed products. Other saw it as an attempt by Apple to control and reap profit from the accessory market, and in turn refused to apply for certification. By announcing a strict iPhone certification process at product launch-time, Apple apparently hopes to head off a similar controversy, while simultaneously ensuring a more stable, damage-free operating environment for the new device.
Most intriguing, however, is word that Apple may instate provisions directing that use of uncertified accessories could void the iPhone warranty. This is a departure from the iPod warranty, which holds no such explicit stipulation, and has resulted in significant cost assumed by Apple's service department for failure caused by poorly manufactured accessories.
One manufacturer we spoke with had this to say about the potential for uncertified accessory warranty invalidation:
"(It's) truly understandable if you see how many Chinese factories produce unauthorized, horribly engineered and badly built accessories."