Why has Apple removed the 3.5mm Jack in the iPhone 7?
Wednesday saw the unveiling of the iPhone 7 at Apples special event held in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. The new devise comes with a new water resistant design, improved camera, brighter screen and new audio system. However, this comes at a starting cost of a whopping £599, so mobile insurance is highly recommended!
Amongst a long list of new features was the controversial removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack which has featured in technology for decades. EarPods now have a lightning connector which will now be an all in one connection used for EarPods, charging and connecting to a computer. With so many accessories using the classic 3.5mm jack many users are already becoming disgruntled by this decision. So why did they do it?
It was down to Phil Schiller, the vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple Inc. to defend the decision. At the special event on Wednesday. He explained that the idea behind the move was an act of courage and vision. His argument was that Apple can no longer justify keeping a one use port. He went on to explain that every technology incorporated into Apple products must compete for space and keeping the port is preventing the corporation from maximising their ability to incorporate new, improved technologies without compromising size. Apple has never been afraid to get rid of old technologies in place for new. From CD drives and floppy disks to Adobe flash and Ethernet ports, Apple have always been quick to move away from industry standard technologies ahead of the crowd. However, if we look at it from a more strategic angle another reason is that because the lightning connector is patented by Apple, they can charge manufacturers a license fee for using the lightning connector in their products. Because Apple have such a huge share in the technology industry, removing the 3.5mm jack could be enough to trigger large changes amongst headphone manufacturers, motivating them to incorporate the lightning connector in their products. At present only JBL and Philips have made the transition. In the meantime, to prevent angry users who have spent hundred on high quality audio equipment, Apple have included a lightning to 3.5mm adapter to cushion the blow.
Another reason behind Apples decision to remove the 3.5mm jack Schiller explained, was to push a new proprietary wireless standard. This claim was backed by the unveiling of AirPods, Apples first wireless earphones. He explained that the vision behind AirPods is to push wireless beyond what is currently on the market by delivering a wireless experience that interacts with all your devises. Such features include activating Siri by double tapping the AirPods so you don’t have to take your iPhone out of your pocket as well as simultaneously connecting to all your Apple devices so AirPods can instantly switch between them.
The decision to remove the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack and introduce EarPods with lightning connector and wireless AirPods has already began to anger users despite including a lightning to 3.5mm jack adaptor. Some users voiced concern that although a 3.5mm adaptor is provided, users cannot charge their iPhone whilst listening to music. In relation to the AirPods, some users have argued that the £159 wireless AirPods are way over priced and that Apple are ‘ripping’ of their customers. Others have raised concern that the £159 wireless earphones could be easily lost or even worse pose a choking hazard to children and animals.
Apple are always striving to push technology forward. Because they have such a large share in the market, they have the power to do so. A large argument in favour of Apple is that in order for innovation to occur, old technologies must be constantly replaced by new and therefore even if Apple did not make this change, the 3.5mm jack was likely to be phased out in the near future none the less.