Apple's ( AAPL) new third-generation iPod Shuffle contains a secret inside: You can only use Apple certified and approved earphones. The tiny, new Shuffle, just announced last week, has all operating controls moved to the earphones in a move to keep the device as small as possible. When you buy your new Shuffle, those controls are built into the white earbuds that come with the player. A number of third-party companies have announced that they'll be producing earphones that comply with the new standard, as well as special Shuffle adapters that will allow you to use any earphones you like.
But TheStreet.com has confirmed that Apple has made the inclusion of a special "chip" a part of any earphone-to-earphone adapter that seeks to communicate with the new Shuffle. Scosche, one of the companies that has announced it will be marketing its own Shuffle earphones and adapters has confirmed that Apple wants these devices to have its "integrated control chip" to work properly with the new Shuffle and carry the "Made for iPod" certification logo. Adapters and headphones without the chip will have problems regulating their volume, according to inside sources. By including this new chip, Apple can decide which companies can market the new accessories. It will also be charging a tax of sorts to any user who wants to use something other than the standard earbuds. The new Shuffle is the first iPod model to require the new earphone chip.