New iPhone Connector Port Revealed, Thus Wiping Out Several Generations Of Accessories In One Fell Swoop
from the planned obsolesence dept
Clarification: As some people have pointed out, Apple themselves have not revealed this—the information comes from TechCrunch’s conversations with accessory manufacturers. The headline was misleading and has been updated.
As iPhones and iPads have gotten more powerful, they’ve been adopted for a lot of professional applications, and this has spawned a huge industry of compatible devices—not just accessories, but significant expansions that can run into the same price range as the iPhone/iPad itself. In music, for example, there are DJ controllers, audio interfaces, studio microphones, stompbox pedals and more—all utilizing the ubiquitous iPod/iPhone/iPad connector port that has remained the same for years. But now TechCrunch has confirmed that the new iPhone will feature a new mini connector with a yet-to-be-announced standard—which means the rest of the Apple line is sure to follow, and all those products are officially on the road to obsolescence.
Apple’s 30-pin ports have been the standard since Apple released the third generation iPod. The connectors offered structural stability when connecting to most accessories but it’s clear – especially with the introduction of the MagSafe 2 port – Apple is more concerned with space savings inside each device.
Three independent manufacturers all agreed that the 19-pin dock port is in the works and many accessory manufacturers are facing an uneasy few months as they wait for official news of the standard to be announced.
This is going to frustrate a lot of users—but despite TechCrunch’s suggestion, most manufacturers probably aren’t “uneasy”. For them, it’s a great cash-grab, and an apparently pointless one. Sometimes things have to become obsolete—but this doesn’t seem like one of those cases. There were no problems with the old connectors, and they weren’t causing any kind of technological bottleneck, so apart from the space-saving aspect, there doesn’t seem to be much to gain—certainly not for the user, and certainly not compared to what’s lost by abandoning such a well-established standard. This has led some to suggest that the accessory manufacturers were in fact the driving force behind the change:
Have you guys ever heard of ‘planned obsolescence?’ It’s a practice which encourages planning and designing a product so it’s only useful for a limited time, before becoming obsolete. It’s common practice, and used by many companies to create demand for the ‘newer, better’ model of the product. Yet this move is possibly prompted by the major accessory makers facing dwindling sales, as customers see no need to buy new accessories for a smartphone that had a universal dock system for 6 generations. What most tech blogs failed to address was the following question: Did the top accessory makers pad Apple’s pockets, or hardball negotiate for an incentive to drop the standard cable as a means of forcing consumers to buy new accessories? We’re inclined to think so.
Considering that three of the top accessory makers have been the first to confirm that they’re working on 19 pin accessories already for the launch of the iPhone 5, the motive is simple : Greed. And why not? It’s a fail safe business plan, designed to shake out the smaller accessory makers with tons of unsold ’30 pin’ stock and a good amount of people will probably conform to this odd decision without question.
Of course, Apple gets plenty of benefits too. The new connector will be yet another proprietary standard, following their typical walled-garden approach, which means most accessory developers will build Apple-first, everything-else-second-if-at-all, thus pushing more people towards Apple products. It’s not surprising, but it’s not a consumer-friendly decision either. Additionally, manufacturers/owners of some of the aforementioned professional accessories to do with music and photography get the worst deal—for them, iPhone/iPad compatibility is a great feature, but not central to their businesses/buying habits. Breaking the compatibility is a source of nothing but frustration, and will probably discourage a lot of such users from upgrading at all—while the manufacturers are slowly forced to leave them behind.