Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Apple releases a new product that forgoes a standard piece of legacy technology. We read all about how said product is going to fail and how we can’t possibly live without whatever it is that got left off. Millions of people buy one anyway, unaware or unaffected by the change, and the rest of the industry comes around to Apple’s way of thinking.
So when I read the rumor that Apple is exploring an iPhone that ditched the 3.5-inch headphone jack, I barely batted an eye. Even if it turns out to not be true with regards to the iPhone 7, it’s a move that is inevitable at some point in the iPhone’s evolution. The universal port has been a function of every audio device since the earliest days of the Sony Walkman, and it has to irk Jony Ive to still be forced to include one decades after the Walkman popularized it.
But contrary to popular belief, I don’t think the decision to remove the port will be for design reasons or out of a rabid desire to make the iPhone as thin as possible. As many have already pointed out, the iPod touch is already thinner than the iPhone, headphone jack and all. Rather, when Apple moves to dump the standard audio jack from the iPhone it will be in the name of progress, and like so many seemingly foolish decisions before it, we’ll be all the better for it.
Everyone remembers the iMac for putting the first nail in the floppy disk’s coffin, but that wasn’t the only technology it put on the road to Obsoletesville. From our own first look at it: “Most dramatically, this new consumer offering has no SCSI port, no standard serial ports, and no ADB ports. Apple has opted to replace these familiar connections with USB, a high-speed serial architecture that has suffered from slow adoption on the Wintel platform despite its technical advantages. Currently, no USB devices exist for the Mac.”
The iMac was fine without legacy ports, and the iPhone will be too.
In 1998, USB was still in its infancy, and Apple took a huge risk by making it the sole connector on the iMac, a decision even bolder than featuring USB-C as the new MacBook’s only port. The iMac was Apple’s last gasp, and had USB not taken off, it might had been the end. But we know how that story ended. USB devices exploded and it quickly became the standard input port on towers and laptops everywhere. Stragglers aside, it didn’t take more than a few years before serial and ADB were distant memories.
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