Back on announcement day for the iPhone 5, I said it would be difficult to impossible for 3rd parties to make Lighting cables because it was likely an active cable. Sadly I was right. From AppleInsider:
Peter from Double Helix Cables took apart the Lightning connector and found inside what appear to be authentication chips. He found a chip located between the V+ contact of the USB and the power pin on the new Lightning plug.
That’s pin 1, the far right pin of a Type A, the far left side of a mini/micro, and the top left of a Type B USB plug. That provides 5V DC. Depending on the nature of how the chip works it could be difficult for cables to provide even power, much less transfer data to the device. Pin 1 and 4 provide power/ground, 2,3 are data.
The big upside here is the market is huge for the first cheap silicon that can emulate this chip at least enough for power, preferably data. Assuming that happens we’ll see a plethora of 3rd party cables. Until then, we’ll see nothing. Of course that could be a huge lawsuit right there.