Apple's product development cycle is, when you break it down, very simple. Release a product, and then over the course of many iterations, work on simplifying and streamlining the design of the product.
Seems simple, but it's also incredibly complex. It's all a balancing act of countless variables -- size, weight, component costs, battery capacity, assembly complexity and costs being just a few -- but one way that Apple can radically simplify a product is to remove a component.
This component can be as simple as a screw, and as big as something like a button or headphone jack.
And Apple has done this. Many times, with many different products. Apple is adept at removing superfluous buttons and ports.
And there's one port that's been rumored for some time now to be headed for the chop -- the iPhone's Lightning port.
Think about it. Does that port need to be on the iPhone? Charging can be done via wireless charging, and as long as Apple built a recovery mechanism into the iPhone, that cable becomes redundant. The Apple Watch doesn't have such a port, and people seem OK with that.
In fact, beyond charging, I can't remember the last time I needed to use the Lightning port on my iPhone.
Dumping the port would mean better water- and dust-resistance, lower component and assembly costs, and less warranty claims because of damaged ports.
Removing the port would also technically allow Apple to fit a bigger battery.
Sure, there would be an accessory fall out from this, but I doubt Apple will make the shift rapidly. Rumors suggest that we're looking at 2021 as being the year that Apple debuts the first Lightning-free iPhone, and that's likely to be the top-of-the-line (yes, it would be just like Apple to sell the removal of a port as a high-end feature).
It would mean that Apple would need to include a wireless charger in the box, but wireless chargers aren't really expensive items these days, and the profit margin on the high-end iPhone is more than enough to cover it.
It also paves the way for Apple to sell expensive -- dare I say, overpriced -- Apple-branded wireless chargers.
And it's also quite a low-risk move. Yes, people use the Lightning port every day -- or night -- but I'm pretty sure that it's mostly used for charging nowadays (Apple likely has data on this) and popping the phone on a charging pad instead of plugging a cable into it is not much of a change.
Just like with Touch ID, I expect the Lightning port to disappear gradually, starting with the high-end iPhones.
I've informally polled to a few iPhone users about this change and people fall into one of two camps. The first, and biggest, is the "I don't really care" camp. They mostly use the port for charging, and many have already abandoned it and use a wireless charger.
The second camp fall firmly into the "I hate that idea" camp. Why? Mostly because they have accessories that use the Lightning port. For these iPhone owners, the idea of losing the port means throwing a lot of cash at new accessories.
But it's inevitable. The days of the Lightning port are numbered.
Do you use your iPhone's Lightning port for anything more than charging? Which camp do you fall into? Let me know!