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Apple may be preparing to flood the market with Lightning connector-powered devices starting next year. 9to5Mac reports that the Cupertino company will soon let third-party firms use its Lightning port in new accessories and HomeKit devices.

The news comes from last week's Apple MFi summit in China, where the company reportedly briefed partner hardware-makers behind closed doors. HomeKit was likely a topic of discussion, but iBeacons, game controllers and even Lightning-powered headphones may also be a possibility

Enabling other companies use the Lightning port is a smart move for Apple. This way Cupertino can keep expanding its ecosystem without building new devices itself, and customers will be able to use one cord to charge even more of their devices, just like we were able to back when the 30-pin connectors were everywhere. We're also guessing Apple won't be giving away those Lightning ports for free, which means Cupertino may have created yet another revenue stream.

Finally, Apple apparently has plans for a slightly redesigned Lightning connector. The new design features a slimmer housing but the tip hasn't changed, so you won't have to replace all of your Lightning cords anytime soon. The new lightning ports and connectors will allegedly start shipping early next year.