Apple’s determination to remain different may finally have backfired. It seems the Lightning connector has brought back to life an old argument over universal standards.
Back in 2009, 10 major cellphone manufacturers agreed with the European Union that there needed to be one standard design for the connectors that charge cellphone batteries. A universal connector would give a much longer shelf life to chargers if the ones purchased today would still work with the devices designed down the road.
These manufacturers agreed to use the micro-USB charger design that is used with almost every type of mobile device – except Apple products. While Apple was one of the 10 manufacturers to agree to the universal standard, it decided to show compliance through the use of an adapter. While everyone else designed their equipment for the micro-USB connector, Apple kept their 30-pin connector as the standard for all their devices.
Now, Apple has shown their continuing commitment to their own design with the introduction of the Lightning charger. But now Apple’s competitors aren’t the only ones irritated by the company’s ongoing rebellion. By redesigning their connector (which definitely was long overdue), they’ve forced all their current customers to buy new hardware in order for their equipment like docking stations and chargers to work with the next and future generations of iPhones, iPads, iPods, iMacs… you get the idea. We’ll give Apple a (very) small bit of credit for the Lightning adapter, but still, it’s another few bucks out of your pocket.
Apple no doubt is a believer in the “wow” factor. They don’t want to just make consumers happy. They want to knock us off our feet with style, innovation and technology. Apple may have seen their loyalty to a proprietary connector as necessary to maintain the Apple aura.
Apple’s connectors do more than charge and sync. From a single port all Apple equipment can be connected to every other one, and with an adapter, that same port can also output these devices to non-Apple equipment like an HDMI television. With most of the other micro-USB compatible equipment out there, you need separate ports – one for charging and one for connecting (and a lots of other functions.) More ports add bulk and can make Ironman’s suit look like the Incredible Hulk is wearing it.
Apple is going to always behave like they own the sandbox, and as long as they’re making more money than anyone else, they can. Maybe we don’t want to stop them, either. Even now, none of their competition has truly matched the style and quality inherent in most Apple products. It’s good for us that they keep trying, though.