cracked-apple

According to Wikipedia, applejack “is a strong apple-flavored alcoholic beverage produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period.”  That sounds pretty good, so who would want that to disappear?

From the news we’re hearing these days, however, you would think that the Apple jack is a critical part of the iPhone, even the reason people buy the product (or so it seems that way from the hysteria).

Examples of the commentary are easily found:

  • Fastcompany: It’s True: Apple Will Drop Headphone Jack To Make The iPhone 7 Slimmer
  • Theverge: Apple says it took ‘courage’ to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7
  • Forbes: Why Apple Was Right To Remove The iPhone 7 Headphone Jack; and
  • Phys.org: Review: Apple’s removal of headphone jack a net loss for consumers

The last bullet is intriguing – Phys.org claims to be a leading web-based science, research and technology news service. Since when was a smartphone jack considered to be science news? You would think removing it created a black hole.

So, why all the fuss?

It is even true that the iPhone 7 package includes both EarPods with a Lightning connector and an adapter for “legacy” earphones. No loss of function there.  Even the wires can be retained if desired!

Some people criticize Apple for a lack of innovation in recent times while others are rejecting the changes that do appear to be innovative. Perhaps anyone with a sentimental attachment to traditional earphone jacks should buy an iPhone 6 instead – there is a choice.

One argument is that it’s simply a money issue – that Apple is forcing everyone to buy new earphones. But Apple provides earphones so I don’t see where they would make money on the change unless they really think everyone will buy the new AirPods.

The implication is that there’s no strategic purpose or future product roadmap involved. I think that is likely quite a shortsighted view.

Any company that sells millions of devices has to plan at least two or three steps in advance; it’s like a chess game – you need an endgame in mind if you want to optimize intermediate moves.

What could the future vision for iPhones be?

One obvious reason is to make it easier to produce water resistant devices. Another advantage would be to reduce the number of mechanical parts – lower cost and fewer wires to fray and connectors to fail.

Perhaps a more important reason would be to allow AirPods to evolve into wireless “ear computers” that might:

  • need much better communications performance than an analog jack can provide;
  • link to multiple devices such as the iWatch or an iPad;
  • include embedded sensors (a thermometer?) for health monitoring;
  • add controls such as answering a call or changing the volume;
  • relay traffic from other wearable devices such as smart glasses; or even
  • function as an in-ear hearing aid.

I think the important question is whether Apple is moving along a path that will lead incrementally towards interesting new functions that we might not accept as a “big bang” change. Is this the emergence of the Hitchhiker Guide’s Babel Fish?

Personally, I hardly ever use earphones so I won’t miss the Apple jack at all! I dislike not hearing street sounds around me (or the person sneaking up behind me). It will take some compelling new features to make me start putting little computers in my ears!

This is what I think. Are you fond of the earphone jack or can you part with it?