Tech giant Apple’s bold move has opened up the company to consumer backlash.
During a tech event on Wednesday, Apple announced it would forego a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on their new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones. The decision to get rid of a single-use analog port allowed more room for a larger battery, additional camera components, a 7-megapixel front-facing camera and the Taptic Engine haptic system that drops the iPhone’s mechanical “home” button for a static, pressure sensitive version.
However, the new phones will still ship with a pair of earbuds that work using Apple’s Lightning connector as well as an adapter (replacements cost $9 each) which will still allow users to use their 3.5mm pair. Apple will offer new $159 wireless AirPods which will work with the company’s new W1 chip that enables the devices’ wireless audio streaming. The AirPods are a boon for audio lovers because there is no loss of sound quality before audio gets to the digital-to-analog converters in your ears. Apple stressed that the AirPods would offer reliable connections using iCloud IDs as well as Bluetooth and proprietary technology.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s head of marketing, said the decision to remove the headphone jack was an act of “courage” to “move on and do something new that betters all of us.” Many disagree.
In a piece for The Verge back in June, Nilay Patel called the very notion of removing the standard headphone jack from the iPhone “user hostile and stupid.”
“The traditional headphone jack is a standard for a reason — it works. It works so well that an entire ecosystem of other kinds of devices has built up around it, and millions of people have access to compatible devices at every conceivable price point,” Patel wrote. “The headphone jack might be less good on some metrics than Lightning or USB-C audio, but it is spectacularly better than anything else in the world at being accessible, enabling, open, and democratizing.”
Phil Schiller countered Patel’s argument that the decision to remove the headphone jack is “user hostile” as well as the suggestion that the move is a digital rights management (DRM) scheme that restricts usage of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. Patel noted this in a follow-up piece published September 8: “The idea that there’s some ulterior motive behind this move, or that it will usher in some new form of content management, it simply isn’t true,” Schiller said. “We are removing the audio jack because we have developed a better way to deliver audio. It has nothing to do with content management or DRM — that’s pure, paranoid conspiracy theory.”
Writer Henry T. Casey also leveled criticisms at Apple, calling the move “greedy,” “egotistical,” and “short-sighted.” There is “no technology as ubiquitous as that 3.5mm jack,” he wrote. John Paczkowski, a managing editor for Buzzfeed, agreed. While he acknowledged that Apple “has been pretty savvy about moving away from legacy standards and adopting new technology,” he also
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