Apple’s MFi program
We’re in the middle of getting the CordLite certified through Apple and it’s been interesting to say the least. This is not a bash Apple post, but hopefully it will serve as a “heads-up” to anyone looking to sell a product that electrically connects to an iPod, iPhone, or iPad. (except for the audio jack… I think that’s exempt) I think this even includes some Bluetooth applications.
The Apple Overlord
Apple has created a very lucrative market and they’re protecting it by controlling the accessories that are allowed in it. They even make a pretty serious royalty for every product sold. It may sound strange, but it’s the way it works, and I don’t think it’s changing any time soon.
Be sure to Start Early
We actually got enrolled in the MFi program last March, and we’re planning on going through the entire planning and testing phases ourselves… and it wasn’t going to be too expensive (a few grand) <— this is different for every product, but for simple products it can even be less. So, we weren’t too worried about it at first.
As we continued through the process (still before Kickstarter), we realized that the reps that we dealt with were not overly helpful in resolving concerns or mistakes. We were new to this process, so we needed helpful people that actually explained things… so this was when we started to get frustrated and worried about the whole MFi thing. We began doubting our decision to be “legit”, and started thinking about going “rogue” and bypassing the certification all together.
We eventually decided that if we ever want to make a real business out of this, we need to do things right and build a positive relationship with Apple, vs being on their naughty list.
MFi Certified Manufacturers
Our saving grace was actually an email from the MFi program, recommending MFi certified manufacturers. Just a few weeks before Kickstarter we were negotiating final pricing with one of these companies and we were assured they would handle the entire certification process. It was a huge relief to us, and we were excited to be able to worry about other things. The only potential drawback is that the manufacturer pays the royalty to apple, which means before you even sell any, you’ve paid a royalty on it. We’re okay with it, but it’s something to consider.
So is it worth it?
Not sure… we’ll see,I guess. I know there are plenty of companies out there that are not MFi certified and they seem to be doing fine, but there are also a few that have been sued by Apple for this exact thing… so in our eyes, whether it’s worth it or not, we’re doing it.