Apple and the jackless iPhone

As anyone at all exposed to the internet will know by now, Apple has removed the 3.5mm audio jack from the new iPhone that’s coming out. This has been the cause of much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but will probably not be the cause of a significant drop in iPhone sales. Much of the prevailing attitude appears to be that now that the great gods at One Infinite Loop have removed the audio jack, people will just have to go on living without it, shouldering the burden of not being able to charge their phones and listen to music at the same time.

As with the single-USB-port MacBook before it, pundits the ’net over have been clamouring to convince everyone to embrace the great innovation Apple is making by boldly removing the audio jack. As industry leaders, Apple are once again looking towards the future and cutting ties with the past for the greater good, much as they did with COM ports and Flash player. Truly, the audio jack was akin to nothing so much as a chain around the ankles of iPhone users, preventing them from diving into the ocean with their now-waterproof iPhones.

It’s pretty obvious that Apple’s main reason for removing the audio jack is to get people to use Apple-brand “AirPod” wireless earphones and Apple-brand Lightning connector earphones instead of inferior standard headsets and earphones from the thousands of other companies that make them. It’s what makes the whole Apple thing a little too much like a cult for my liking – first you get the phone, then the laptop, then the tablet and the watch and then a whole box of spare AirPods, and before you know it you’re offering burnt sacrifices to St Jobs and beheading the green bubble’d.

These kinds of business practices are why I do not and will never own any Apple devices – I am fundamentally uninterested in buying into a single company’s “ecosystem”. I own a self-assembled PC, have bought laptops from multiple different vendors and installed Linux on them (usually an Ubuntu that I manually swap out the window and file manager of), own a Blackberry Android phone and buy books off Amazon for my Kobo ereader. Because, as I wrote extensively with regards to Microsoft and Windows 8, there is no one-size-fits-all perfect unified experience. People are different from each other and within themselves, and no single company’s ecosystem is going to be all things to all people.

We need interoperability and choice, openness and diversity. Apple has long shown that they aren’t interested in any of that – under the guise of superior quality, they lock users into their ecosystem to sell them as much as possible. And rather than voting for what they really want with their wallets, users continue to buy into the Apple ecosystem because of their existing sunk costs, sucking up and sadly rationalising each port removal to themselves.

So if you don’t want to lose a million stupid wireless earphones, if you don’t often go deep-sea diving with your smartphone, and if you like to listen to music while you charge your phone, maybe consider getting an Android next upgrade (or an Ubuntu phone, or one of those other things). Just don’t tell yourself you’re better off without a headphone jack if you don’t truly believe it.

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