We've been wondering what Apple's new Lightning connector for the iPhone 5 would mean for the iPhone accessory market, and now it's looking like the company is tightening up manufacturing of its new connector and imposing new restrictions on participants in its Made for iPod / iPhone / iPad (MFi) program. iLounge is reporting that third-party manufacturing facilities will need to be certified before it can produce any Lightning accessories, and we've confirmed this change with our own sources. From Apple's own documentation, the new rule says that "Only MFi Manufacturing Licensees will be able to procure mass-production quantities of Lightning connectors." Additionally, no third-party facilities have been approved yet, even though the new iPhone has been out for almost two weeks.
We've also learned that Apple is planning a MFi summit for November that will lay out the details for the new program — which means that manufacturers likely will not be able to produce or sell any Lightning-compatible accessories until after that date. iLounge reports that some accessories could be ready for the holiday season, but for the first time, new iPhone buyers are stepping into a world where the accessory ecosystem is much more limited than it was in previous years. While it's not clear yet whether or not this new process will end up costing the end consumers more money, there's a chance that the delay plus new limitations might make new MFi accessories a bit more expensive than they were in the past.