Death of the headphone jack – progress or mistake?

Apple and Google have decided to kill the headphone jack on their smartphones. Apple did this with the iPhone 7 and Google followed suit with its Pixel 2. The firms say ditching the only analog port on their devices allows them to reduce device size and remove bezel from the screen. But the 3.5mm jack is foolproof to use and is well supported. We decided to take the debate to our community of executives. For our Community Question of the Month for November, we asked: “Do you think removing the headphone jack is a mistake? Will you miss the 3.5 mm headphone jack or are you OK with wireless and USB-C headphones?”

Ron Reed, vice-president of sales, SAS Canada

Ron Reed SAS headshot

There are certainly pros and cons on each side of the debate, but personally, I welcome the change and hope that it will only serve to improve the customer experience. The market is clearly signaling that wireless is the future but whether now is the right time is only a question the consumer can answer best. The pressure is certainly on to show users why the new standard will improve ease of use and prove why they won’t miss the “old” technology.

Luc Villeneuve, country leader, Red Hat Canada

Luc Red Hat Day 2017

I love anything wireless but also like choice. I don’t think today’s sleek wireless headphone technology has been perfected enough to push the tried and true jack/headphone combo into early retirement. A wireless headphone requires batteries, and according to experts delivers inferior audio quality to the wired version and is prone to interference. The average consumer is not a sophisticated audiophile but they know good sound. I prefer a headphone jack on my phone until the quality of my headphones matches the technology on my phone.

Stevan Lewis, senior vice-president of digital transformation, Sun Life Financial

I miss the headphone jack to accommodate some of the killer old school headphones, not to mention, I can’t listen to music while I charge my phone anymore! Charging over listening is a decision we should just not have to make. It also means that you have to ensure your wireless headphones are charged – it’s just another thing to remember and manage. Bring back the jack, we don’t need waterproof!

Bradley Brodkin, founder, president, and CEO at HighVail

bradley brodkin highvail

I don’t personally use headphones on my iPhone very often. When I do listen to music, it’s in the car or on speakers, so I won’t really miss having the headphone jack on my iPhone. What I’m not as thrilled with is Apple arbitrarily removing all the ports on the new MacBooks. It’s been a boon for the accessory manufacturers as we seem to continually need dongles to attach older devices externally. Everything will go wireless in time, but for now, USB-C may be significantly higher performance, but it’s far from any standard yet.

Greg Fields, chief product officer, Myplanet

“While I understand the business benefits of moving people to a higher quality headphone experience, and motivating the purchase of higher margin accessories, losing the 3.5mm headphone jack does mean customers face the initial inconvenience of not being able to use their existing pair(s) of headphones. There are always going to be tradeoffs, that’s the cost of moving product categories forward.”


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Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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