The Verge's Nilay Patel is incensed by the rumor that Apple may - or may not - be planning to ditch the headphone jack in favor of making headphones have to adopt the Lightning port.
See also: Rumor suggests Apple may be backtracking on unpopular iPhone 7 change
"What exciting times for phones!" writes Patel. "We're so out of ideas that actively making them shittier and more user-hostile is the only innovation left."
Now I like Patel, he's a smart guy, and not the sort of pundit who's taken in by things just because they are new or shiny, or because the press release tells him he should be.
And it's clear that he's a big fan of the headphone port.
But the thing is that Apple is no stranger to making decisions that, at the time they were made, were labeled by some as "stupid" and "user-hostile."
Let's list just a few.
- Dropping the floppy drive
- Not supporting Blu-ray
- Dropping the optical drive
- Sticking with FireWire when the rest of the world went with USB
- Dropping the smartphone's physical keyboard for an on-screen keyboard
- Adopting a proprietary 30-pin connector for the iPod
- Coming out with a tablet that didn't have a USB port
- Dropping the 30-pin connector in favour of another proprietary connector rather than going with USB like everyone else
- Using Thunderbolt for high-speed connectivity rather than USB
- Making a MacBook with a single USB-C port that's used for charging and connecting peripherals
And the list goes on.
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Now, you may personally not have called some (or any) of the above "stupid," but plenty of people did. And maybe some were stupid, but here's the important thing to realize:
No one cares anymore.
Ultimately, Apple is driven by one thing - money. Its decisions revolve around reducing production costs, pulling in more revenue, or capturing and then locking users into its ecosystem, and whether you like Apple or not, you have to admit that it's darn good at achieving these goals.
Another thing to realize is that Apple is in a position where it can pull off moves that might sink another firm. Why? Because it's had years and years of people hailing everything the company did as amazing and wonderful and revolutionary. The stalwart fanboys were the first to get infected by the Apple fever, and have been chanting "Apple is good, Apple is great" for decades. They then passed the fever on to the tech media, which has made out Apple to be more a religion than a consumer electronics brand.
And then Apple has enjoyed almost a decade of people throwing money at it faster than banks could print it. You might look at what the company does as "user-hostile and stupid," but Apple's bank balance implies that this isn't a widely held belief.
Consumers still think that Apple is amazing, revolutionary, and that the sun shines out of every Lighting, Thunderbolt and USB-C port.
And no one believes that Apple is amazing more than Apple does.
We've made Apple the way it is. We made the company brash and arrogant. And yet we're still somehow surprised when it does things that we feel are boneheaded or arrogant or stupid.
And we're then surprised again when Apple banks yet another billion.
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