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Grumpy tech guy: Apple, this isn't courage - it's arrogance

09 Sep 16

One of my first home computers was an Apple IIe. I’ve met and chatted with Steve Jobs, hell I’ve even experienced his reality distortion field in person at full blast. It’s fair to say that I am not normally an Apple hater. Disclosure: I’m usually a bit of a fan.

But after the iPhone 7 launch I wouldn’t blame any Apple fans for sputtering with rage. A lot of what Apple does makes a tonne of sense. This gets reflected in the fact that they’re one of the most recognisable brands in the world.

Yesterday in San Francisco, Apple’s head marketing huncho, Phil Schiller seemed to be taking the piss. On stage, he discussed why the iPhone 7 would not have a 3.5mm headphone jack. His explanation bordered on bizarre.

"It comes down to one word," he said... "Courage....."

Outrage spread as loyal Apple customers began to understand the consequences of Apples move. Schiller was the subject of much scorn on social media which I for one think is well deserved.

You see, exaggeration is one thing. Using emotive twaddle to bullshit loyal customers is another altogether.

Let’s get one thing straight. Courage is taking on that hijacker aboard a plane on September the 11th. It is not something that you do to make pot-loads of money.

If Schiller had explained how losing the jack improved battery life or equated to a thinner iPhone, it'd be understandable. Instead fans got treated to some sketchy waffle revolving around "courage".

The move to dump the 3.5mm jack makes so little sense. It is one of the most durable and widespread audio standards in the world with good reason. It works. It also sounds better than the wireless alternatives. But Apple scrapped it, replacing it with its own proprietary Lightning port system.

Apple's thinking that loyal customers would buy that it was a courageous move is simply breath-taking. 

Once headphone makers join the fray, the large number of accessory makers already paying Apple license fees to use the lightning connector will get even larger.

Something tells me Schiller's use of the word “courage” should’ve been replaced with the word “profit”. The large number of accessory makers already paying Apple license fees to use the lightning connector is about to get larger once headphone makers join the fray.

It is also a pretty darned stupid move from a company that should know better. 

The fan boy fights on the tech forums have been predictable. Defenders of Apple's decision reacted by quoting its successful track record of eradicating legacy technologies. Others just expressed outrage.

This time there is no compelling reason to eliminate the 3.5mm jack. It won’t result in any discernable improvement in audio. Music also won’t sound any better over a lightning adaptor. That is assuming you’ve remembered to carry that fiddly 3.5mm to lightning port adaptor and already lost it. 

In fact, music might actually sound worse over Bluetooth... not to mention the other proprietary wireless standard Apple developed for its AirPods. 

When it comes to wireless, the reality is that less audio information can be carried compared to a copper cable.

So ask yourself this: If Apple had their customers interests at heart rather than increasing already copious licensing revenues, would they have bundled a ridiculous lightning port adaptor that is going to be awkward and that you'll most likely lose? Would they want customers to have an inferior audio experience?

So just what will you get from Apples scrapping of the 3.5mm jack? According to Schiller you get stereo speakers and Taptic engines.

Do we need any of this? Nope. Having two speakers - one on each end of the iPhone is might technically be stereo. But unless you’ve got the iPhone squished up against your nose, you won’t be able to discern between left and right channel audio. Besides, who’d want to anyway? The audio out of those tiny phone speakers is only capable of shrill and awful audio. No thanks.

Taptic is just that physical click sensation felt when pressing the home screen button. Hate to tell you this Apple, but the old school button worked just fine.

All told, the trade-offs are just not worth it. Anything that plugged into the 3.5mm jack might as well get binned. You’ll have to buy new lightning port ones to bolster Apples licensing revenues. That isn’t courage, its greed.

In my opinion, it is just money driven stupidity. Treating loyal customers like ATMs will see them rewarding you by going elsewhere; It isn’t like there’s a lack of alternatives out there.

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