Apple's Infuriating Hardware Changes Are For Your Own Good

If Apple switches from a 30-pin dock connector to a smaller 19-pin design, as a story by Reuters reports, iPhones and iPads would have a new standard port. This is certain to frustrate some people -- namely the huge market base that has purchased billions of dollars worth of licensed chargers and docks. The company is thumbing its nose at loyal customers. But it has to happen.

New standards are always rough on the early adopter gadget nerd. If you wanna stay up on the latest and greatest, you're constant rendering your own devices obsolete. The good companies have ways of letting you down softly. But it's never an easy pill for you or your wallet to swallow. As much as it seems like some greedy ploy by Apple to screw you over and force you into buying another set of expensive new toys, the truth is that any innovative, forward-looking company has to make these difficult breaks with the status quo.

This is technology.

The latest and greatest innovations need to be encouraged and celebrated. Yes, the 30-pin connector still functions admirably, but it has also been in use for more than 10 years. The longer it sticks around, the harder it is to move on when it becomes a truly dated technology. The rumoured 19-pin connector has immediate benefits: smaller size means more room for better components, or the ability to further shrink down a device. And while we don't know much about its specs for now, it wouldn't be unimaginable for it to enable faster data transfer rates. (Thunderbolt support, perhaps?)

This isn't the first time Apple has done something like this. And it likely won't be the last time either. To show this isn't the end of the world, we put together a list of all the times Apple has parted ways with a technology or standard. Each time, people were certain the company was off its arse. As it turned out, Apple was just ahead of the game.

Floppy Disk Drive

When Apple unveiled iMac G3 in 1998, the floppy disk was something everyone still used. CD burners weren't ubiquitous by any means, and flash storage was still in its infancy. An external floppy disk drive was still an option for those who absolutely needed it, but Apple made their intentions clear: the floppy disk must die. Thirteen years later, the technology was laid to rest.

CD/DVD SuperDrive

Apple's decision to nix the SuperDrive from the first MacBook Air had everybody on edge. The Floppy Disk was hard enough. Now, 10 years later, the world is supposed to be ready for thumbdrives and the internet to replace CDs and DVDs -- for backup, storage, and as vehicles for multimedia content? As it turned out, the answer was unequivocally yes. Apple's slow and sustained move away from physical media seemed crazy. But then last year, Ultrabooks followed suit, launching across several brands sans optical drives.


Firewire was one of Apple's babies when the company introduced the technology. Starting in 1999, Apple pushed other manufacturers to include a Firewire port in their products. But better technologies emerged, and Apple embraced that reality in the name of quality. Ever since the rise of USB 2.0, Apple has relied on Firewire less and less. First it was the USB-only support on the iPod. Then it was the elimination of the Firewire 400 port on the MacBook Pro. And Now the MacBook Pro with Retina Display has no Firewire port at all, instead utilising the superor Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 technologies. This is perhaps a more graceful way to phase out a technology, and it' s a good lesson in letting one go, even when you were instrumental in its development.

All Apple Display Connections

Apple's decision to begin using smaller display connections in iBooks and Powerbooks elicited the same anxiety as the rumours of the smaller iPhone dock connector. But these mini-VGA ports (and then mini-DVI, mini-DisplayPort, and then Thunderbolt) allowed for smaller connections, better performance, and the ability for a single port to support multiple types of connection standards. Nobody loves having to buy a new adaptor. But this is the kind of performance improvement a 19-pin connector could introduce.


Yes, Apple shrunk down the Magsafe connector. It made old power bricks incompatible with new laptops. But whatever. Every Apple laptop comes with a power brick, and a few bucks buys a magnetic adaptor for an old one.

The Bottom Line

Some gadgets would become obsolete if this new connector comes to pass. That's unfortunate. But if Apple's history of transitions is any indication, there will probably be an adaptor that allows iOS devices and their accessories to work together with much of the same functionality intact. As long as they're not charging $US50 for a little piece of plastic, it's hard to fault a company for chasing after a newer and potentially better technology for our benefit.



    It really doesn't have to happen. It's a drop in the number of pins, not an increase, so using more advanced technology as an excuse is kind of irrelavant.

      So you're saying more pins = more advanced technology?

      Wow...everyone throw their USB connected printers out the window and let's all go antique (sorry, "more advanced technology") hunting for printers using serial connections! More pins is better right?

      Drop in the number of pins so the tech can't be more advanced.... what? Are you really this dim?

        Antiquated printers uesd Paralell ports, Todays use Serial, What do you think USB stands for anyway?

        No I'm just saying that the reduction in pins does not need to happen in order to support newer standards like the article claims.

    Why the yukky GIF ? What is that anyway ?

      It's an example of the "Deal with it" meme:

      quite funny, IMHO

        i see. Cheers

        Really no need to write IMHO. I'm pretty sure all people commenting are speaking for themselves so there's really no need to clarify that it's your opinion. We get it

          It's the same as saying "quite funny I think" or "quite funny I reckon". The guy is trying to stem the flow of trolls saying "THATS NOT FUNNY AT ALL LOSER". Give him a break turbo.

          It's absolutely necessary. If I say "The sky is blue", then that's a fact. Just because I wrote it doesn't make it ONLY my opinion. Conversely, if he was just to write "it's quite funny", then some may misinterpret him, and think that he believes himself to be stating a fact. By writing "in my opinion", he is showing that he is aware that the meme's "funniness" is his subjective opinion, and that his view may not be shared by others...

          I think.

    The old connector has been around for nearly 10 years. People can hardly complain they haven't had a good run from it.

      USB has been around even longer and, in its 3rd iteration, is still fully backward-compatible, better than ever and has legs for who knows how many more years. In other words, stop being an apologist for Apple.

        Pretty much every rumour that states they will also be releasing an adapter to allow the devices to use older peripherals. Micro USB cables don't fit into a standard USB port either, in fact there are several different USB connectors that aren't physically compatible with one another but electronically are. If the rumour of an adapter is true, and it isnt that far fetched, then it's not a lot different anyway.

        Noone does backwards compatible like Microsoft eh Motormouth? That boat has so many anchors hanging off it its a miracle it still moves at all

          I LOL'd. Motormouth has his tongue so far up MS's butt, he never comments unless it has an MS slant. Pin connector change? Bout frigging time. Heck, my kids went from a Nintendo DSi to DSXL and the mighty nintendo saw fit to change the connector port. Frustrating but did they cop a heap of flak for it? Nope. Apple....biggest fish in the pond and people just don't like that their once mighty company has been put to shame on so many occasions.

            Nintendo doesn't have peripherals upwards of 200 dollars.

            My iPod dock cost nearly 500 dollars, if they change the connector, and I was using an iPhone and not an iPod... I'd be understandably annoyed to have to get a NEW dock only a year after I bought it. An adaptor would make it less painful... except the dock sits in a little alcove, and an extra inch or two of height (more, if the new iPhone is taller as the rumors suggest) would make it, once again, entirely incompatable.

      The thing about this particular "forced adoption" is that it's the only I/O port on the whole thing. All your iPhone-specific peripherals will need replacement or modification, not just a minority of them.

      When will consumers cease to bend over for their overlords...

    Here's an idea why not follow EU guidelines and the rest of the market by using micro-usb, oh that's right Apple have to invent a whole new connection.

    Or they could conform to normal USB3 so everone can reuse their cables.
    Saying that apple making up its own standards is a good thing is rediculous.


      Except for the spelling of "ridiculous".


          Rideculous or Redonuloso would have also been accepted.

      It's ok to retire the old connector, but to come up with a completely new 'standard' (and I use that term lightly) is ridiculous.

      microUSB + conductive dots = problem solved.

      Another reason I'm never going back to Apple.

      From what I'm aware the dock connector cable has functionality that USB is not designed for, such as the ability to carry analogue audio (for use in external speakers and docks for example). USB in such cases would require something to decode the audio stream before passing it on.

      Not that it couldn't be done, but the dock connector isn't a 1:1 match to USB functionality wise.

    MBA came out in 2008 - it's now 4 years later, not 10.

    Still, it's disappointing Apple didn't go with microUSB like practically every other gadget manufacturer - tablets, phones, e-readers, e-readers, music players ... *everyone else* uses microUSB, which means that there's a compatible charger nearby for just about anything you use day-to-day. And those who don't use microUSB generally use miniUSB!

      But it's 10 years from when they ditched the Floppy Disk Drive as the article is saying..

      1998+10=2008. I think they were referring to the gap between forcing a move away from floppys and a move from CDs.

      The issue in the statement is "But then last year, Ultrabooks followed suit," Conveniently forgetting the invention of netbooks pre-dated the macbook air by some months.

        Ah, OK ^_^. And yes, good point!

    I agree with the principle of your article, but feel that a new dock connector lacks the innovation that Apple's previous efforts have displayed.
    I would expect Apple to come up with a device free from physical connections. Inductive charging and Bluetooth (or perhaps a variant that allows ultra-fast connections over a distance of a few centimetres) could spell the end for physical connections. Cars could be fitted with sync shelves where the device would charge and connect to the car's systems simply by being placed in the right region.
    If a physical connection is required, then I would ask that they pick either USB 3 or Thunderbolt and be done with it. My preference is for USB because that's what all my other gadgets use (aside from my beloved clickwheel iPod Nano) but I wouldn't bedgrudge Apple for picking Thunderbolt.

    I am open to the possibility of the new dock connector offering something that existing cables don't , but I suspect it's yet another proprietary cable in an age when the world's finally standardising on micro-USB.


      Inductive charging + NFC + Bluetooth.

      Place your device on an inductive charging pad, NFC auto connects your audio via bluetooth. That would be my ideal usage situation.

        I believe that was called the Palm Pre

      Pretty much any data transfer can occur wirelessly already. You still need to charge it, granted, but the WIFI is fine for data sync.

        Wifi isn't fine for data transfer. A 64GB iPad sync takes a very long time over wifi as it backs up regularly.

          Sure, but bluetooth would also suck.

          Personally I prefer to use a wired connection. I just was pointing out that if they do really want wireless, it's there already.

    You say Apple were ahead of the game, then you use firewire as an example. Interesting.

    This would probably push me over the edge to go Android. Unless the new connector can do something amazing, I can't help but feel I'd be better off with a product that uses a standard USB connector.

      You would be. It's far more useful. And smaller.
      Samsung even found a way to improve on the microUSB by turning it into a MHL port, so it build on the capabilities of a USB port while still conforming to a standard plug. For some reason it looks like MHL may not have picked up as much as it should have but at least it's still a normal USB too

    I don't understand why they are moving from one proprietary connector to another. Why bother if you're still forcing people to buy new docks and cables. At least if they switched to microUSB we could get dock, charger and accessory support for multiple products.

      Ditching proprietary connectors cuts their profitability. Tthey're obviously not making enough change on their $19.00 cables. The stock holders will love it when people have to drop 25-30 bucks a connector again.

    Why can't they just use the standards everyone else uses for once? What pisses me off eve more is the fact that my iPod nano doesn't charge on my Alpine car head unit, a product of Apple allowing accessory manufacturers to use 12V (Firewire) charging then proceeded to create devices that could only charge off the 5V USB charging standard even though their connector is the same. In some cases they may have been ahead of the game, in many cases they are ignorant fools who don't adopt common industry standards and don't even follow their own proprietary standards (FFS!).

    The headline would be reasonable if Apple were moving to the industry standard micro-USB but all they are doing is setting up the fools who buy their stuff for another gouging down the line. The old adage "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" springs instantly to mind. I'll add another bit to it - "fool me 20 times, just shut up and take my money, Apple".

      Ah yes, USB, with its industry standard audio streaming, and its industry standard video streaming.

      Oh... Wait...

        As previously pointed out, micro USB ports now allow for mhl, ie full hdmi out. So yes, industry standard full hi definition video and 7.1 sound.

        Exactly! We've been streaming audio via a range of USB devices, live on stage, for more than a decade. Just do a search on eBay for "USB audio" to see what's available and you'll see what a jackass you've made of yourself.

          Wow, so you must plug the USB straight into your laptop that can load drivers to stream audio form something like a CDJ? Not into devices like a stereo or car headunit like you would an iPhone which has much simpler capabilities?

          Chumly made an excellent point about MHL, MotorMouth just made a jackass of himself.

            Haha yup that's MotorMouth for ya

    So we ditch the connector and bin a multitude of devices because something is nearly 10 years old -
    I haven't heard anyone complaining about the old connector so why replace what isn't broken?

    Maybe I'm just getting old....

      If you think the tech has reached it's pinnacle then just buy a 4S and don't upgrade.

      Yet another good reason why I avoid any and all Apple products and strongly encourage anyone I know to do the same.

      Because having a connector that is half to a third the size allows them to reduce the amount of space inside the device dedicated to the port. That space can then be used for a larger battery, more memory, creating a smaller device or whatever.

      It may not seem like a lot, but we're talking about devices where cutting even fractions of a mm of the height of the device can be seen as a rather larger step forward in reducing the devices profile. Personally, I'm happy to see technology that is larger than it needs to be shrunk such as SIM cards and the connectors if it leads to tangible improvements in the devices internals.

    Yeah, screw you A*ple, my investment in EISA video cards is as secure as it ever was. Luckily technology never diverges unless you're foolish enough to buy from them. Let us pile scorn upon their unannounced technology.

    There will be adapters anyway. I already have an apple 30 pin to 3.5mm audio adapter.

    Putting the audio jack on the bottom though is just awful.

      dkNigs spot on !

    People seem to get their panties in a twist over these ninteen dollar cables.

    I go to eBay and buy them from hong kong for three dollars.

    This remark is pretty stupid in the context:
    "New standards are always rough on the early adopter gadget nerd"
    The people who buy new iphones are not "early adopter gadget nerds" and nor are those that have bought docks and peripherals. Simply because idevices are so mainstream and universal. The average user is about as far from a gadget nerd as you can get... apart from still having gadgets.

    Anyway, I do hope they get rind of those huge, ugly, ungainly plugs. But this is really just an empty rummour so far.

      Yeah, and people were literally dying when devices started coming with USB 3.0, right? New standards are rough if they are poorly done.

    They should meet the EU specification and just have micro USB, as mentioned, they can use MHL for extra expandability or settle for an aux connection out if they want to keep refusing to license stuff.

      MHL as proposed or Samsung's non-MHL? Rotfl.

    Not to overlook transitions in processor family: 6800 to PowerPC, PowerPC to Intel, and of course the Move from classic MacOS to OS X...

    I love the Apple solution- "there's an adaptor for it". Meanwhile EVERY other company is Minihdmi/MicroUSB.

    Things Apple Proved-

    1. AppleCare is a product, not a requirement under EU Law
    2. Mobile Phones are not meant to be used to make Phone calls.

      Zune has Minihdmi/MicroUSB?

        Zune hasn't been relevant for two years, two years ago MicroUSB was still relatively new... phones were still coming out with MiniUSB. We're talking about NOW.

    There's numerous certainties in life... one is death, another is change.

    So what if connectors change / evolve. Yes, it's a bit of a bummer for convenience and inter-gadget connectivity for a few months, but I want things to move forward.

    You're article overlooks the rumored DRM that will be incorporated into this new connector. But hey let's keep it all rosey for the isheep brigade.

    +1 to the next iphone being thunderbolt compatible. i mean there are so many macs out there with thunderbolt ports which remain unplugged. I would not be @ all surprised if this is the case.

      There's a lot more that aren't however. It seems unlikely to me given the timing. Maybe in 12 or 18 months thunderbolt would make sense.

    Apple charges a licensing fee for companies to include a dock connector. Moving to USB would kiss goodbye that whole ecosystem that is bringing in a tonne of cash. Apple, and anyone else who wants to sell you shit, do these things in their own interest. it would be logical and helpful to consumers to include USB, but not profitable :-)

    lol can't see this going down well.

    Is there actually any substance to this article? Where has it been pulled from?

    Personally, apple can do what ever they want.

    Got 30 Pin Port and want Micro USB? No problem. Search eBay for "Micro USB to Apple 30 pin" you're sure to find a solution.

    We can argue about what apple should put in, but in the end, does it really matter?

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