Will Apple Murder the Headphone Jack?
It’s an incarnation of an instrument that can boast origins from before the First World War, witnessed the birth of television, the birth of CD’s, the death of floppy disk, the demise of the cassette tape, the end of video tapes and the birth of MP3. Countless technologies have came and went, but each time this unassuming piece of copper based technology stood unscathed and unblemished. But if rumours are to be believed, Apple are ready to consign the humble and resilient headphone jack to technology obsolescence.
Sadly it seems that Apple in all their omnipotent glory, have deemed the headphone jack as surplus to requirement in their world of tomorrow, a ‘leaked’ report which broke on several websites including 9-5Mac, seemed to confirm that Apple had submitted a specification to their MFI licensing program. Intent on creating headphones designed specifically for their copyright trademarked lightning connector.
Apple tend to have a monopoly when it comes to ending the lifespan of ailing technology, being responsible for the death of the floppy disk, the dial up modem, optical drives, DVD’s, they even it could be argued committed infanticide by expanding the memory on the iPhone, ensuring the once revolutionary iPod’s days were numbered.
Although at first, it was a tough transition period, each of these technological bereavements paved the way for more progressive and valuable technology. Floppy disk led to USB memory sticks with vastly superior data compressing capabilities, dial up modem led to fibre optic broadband, DVD’s led to the superior Blu Ray, and there definitely still seems to be love for the iPod in this shiny new world.
The headphone jack has in itself not changed massively since its creation in the late 1870’s. The only discernible difference being the size of the jack itself. Originally used to connect telephone switchboards, the small quarter inch connector has become ubiquitous throughout the music industry as a way of connecting musical instruments to headphones.
Although propelling forward from analogue to digital will bring many benefits to headphones, such as better functionality, allowing you to control more than off, on and volume levels. There will be a barely audible difference in sound quality, and let’s not mention using bluetooth headphones as a solution.
It seems that Apple views the headphone jack as a problem in their mission to shrink and slim their products evermore, with rumours of, according to Fastcompany.com “a waterproof iPhone 7, wireless charging and a decrease in width.”
The unfortunate problem with waterproof phones tends to be the necessity for them to actually be waterproof, and the inclusion of a headphone jack in the new iPhone7 would negate any attempts to H2O proof the phone.
Apple have had a tumultuous relationship with shape and size, it’s a commonly known industry story that Steve Jobs allegedly, after being handed the prototype iPod dropped it in a fish tank, pointed at air bubbles floating to the top and said, “those are air bubbles, that means there is still space in there, make it smaller.”
Obviously the more cynical Geek McGeekerson’s out there might question whether Apple have ulterior motives for wishing to eradicate the world of the apparent headphone jack menace. If you consider, they currently own “Beats” the most profitable headphone company in the world, and although critically not the greatest quality, or the best value for money Apple would certainly like to continue holding the lions share of the headphone market. Changing the universal charger to an Apple specific charger would certainly go a long way to solidifying their position as No1 for the considerable future.
It seems however that the California based company could be alienating an enormous share of the market. Although only presumed, the next iPhone is expected to be waterproof, offer wireless charging and a variety of other additional bonuses, many of them can already be found on or will be found on the handsets of Apple’s main competitors. Apple are also risking alienating every single possible customer who prefers any other brand of headphone other than Beats and doesn’t wish to carry about an easily misplaced headphone adapter in their pocket.
All eyes will be on Apple when they make any future statements regarding the iPhone7, however Tim Cook probably won’t be losing too much sleep over the decision to kill the headphone jack. It was revealed Apple Music broke the 10 million paid subscriber mark in less than six months. In comparison, Spotify had to wait six years to accrue the same number of members.
Last year alone Apple sold more than 200 million iPhone 6’s, to date have sold 300 million iPads, more than 5 million Apple Watches and last year sold more than 4 million MacBooks. The Apple brand is worth $700 billion dollars and is on course to be the first company to be worth more than a trillion dollars.
Surely an insignificant decision such as the removal of an archaic plug socket in use since the 1870’s, couldn’t have any wider ramifications for the multi billion pound company…Could it?