For months it’s been an open secret that Apple would be removing the 3.5- mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7. Anger simmered online as commenters — both professional and amateur — furiously typed away. How could they! What a stupid move that would be! They can’t possibly get rid of the headphone jack, how will I listen to my phone AND charge it at the same time?
But underlying this hate, there was a hope. Maybe if Apple saw all the rage, they would change course, right?
When Tim Cook officially unveiled that new iPhone last Wednesday, it stung. Partially because it destroyed all hope that the iPhone 7 would not ditch the headphone jack, but more so because of Apple’s’ reasoning.
Asking the keynote audience rhetorically why Apple would get rid of the jack, executive Phil Schiller said, “The reason to move on really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us.”
Ah yes, courage. It definitely takes plenty of courage to force people to pay more for adapters and accessories that are absolutely unnecessary.
But now almost a week after that announcement, it’s nothing new or controversial to say that the iPhone 7, without a precious 3.5-mm jack, is a mistake. But this decision is not one that will usher in a new future, nor is it one that necessitates some kind of new era of wireless technology. This is a decision that does one thing: serves Apple’s bottom line.
Specifically, to replace the 3.5-mm jack, Apple has chosen to embrace Bluetooth technology with its absurdly expensive “AirPods.” At nearly $160 a pop, these wireless earbuds are no small investment. But Apple assures us that it’s all part of the future of smartphones.
More damning than that though, Bluetooth is not a universal standard like the trusty 3.5-mm jack and isn’t a clearly better option than a wired connection. Wireless earbuds are universally more expensive than wired and the aux cord is by far the simplest way to connect a smartphone to a car stereo. And while most modern cars are Bluetooth-enabled, the tech is often spotty at best and useless at worst. Add to this the fact that the average age for a car in America is over 11 years, and the problems truly begin to mount.
But oh, Apple says, it’s time to usher in a new future. Is it a coincidence that this future helps Apple’s bottom line more than anything else? Probably not, especially at a time when the smartphone market is more competitive than ever.
In fact, it’s more likely than not that the Apple decision-making process on the iPhone 7 was driven largely by business. The iPhone is no longer the only belle at the ball, and competition with Android phones is stiff.
But if Apple really wanted to bring in a new future for smartphones, then they would package the AirPods for free with the 7. But they didn’t, and they won’t, if only because it’s a money-losing proposition.
But at the end of the day, we have to look at this issue holistically and as consumers. If a company isn’t up to snuff, the answer is simple: don’t buy from that company.
Apple says its decison is driven by courage, but contributing to the inaccessibility of the latest technology in pursuit of profit is nothing but cowardly. While the elimination of a single port seems inconsequential, its implications should not be ignored. If sales of the iPhone 7 are successful, it means we as consumers have allowed Apple to get away with profiting off a mediocre product.
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