Newsletter Issue #876 — Apple and Spin Control: Courage My Eye!

September 12th, 2016

If you can believe Apple’s corporate spin machine, it took “courage” to ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack, a venerable connection port that has been in use in one form or another since the 1950s. On the surface, this seems to be true. Beginning with the 1998 Bondi Blue iMac, Apple began to ditch legacy ports that it perceived had outlived their usefulness. The floppy drive and optical drive also received their walking papers. On mobile gear, the original dock connector gave way to the Lightning port.

Between adapters and external devices it was usually possible to work around these changes. But that didn’t mean that you didn’t have to endure a little pain along the way. While external floppy drives would generally support HD disks, not so for the single-sided or double-sided floppy formats. I still cannot live without an optical drive, but since a client sent me one as a present for my iMac, it’s just a matter of occupying yet another USB port. Thank heavens for hubs.

The headphone jack is obviously a huge deal, however, since it has been installed on perhaps billions of devices over the decades. Building a device with audio output capability that doesn’t have a traditional jack of some sort may indeed be a matter of courage, or the feeling that there is a better alternative. Or it’s time to move everyone to wireless, so adapters are no longer necessary. But Apple didn’t help the cause by supplying wired ear buds with the iPhone 7. Those fancy AirPods are $159, but that’s not out of line compared to some headgear from other companies.

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