Speculation is growing that Apple intends to replace the 30-pin docking port on the iPhone with a smaller 8-pin socket. There may be several advantages to this move, but doing so will make warehouses full of iAccessories incompatible with the latest and greatest smartphone from Apple. That is, unless you have an adapter.
The question is: will Apple foot the bill? Does it owe its loyal user-base an adapter included in the box with every new iPhone, in acknowledgement that this change will cause headaches and frustration to anyone with an expensive iPhone speaker dock or a luxury car with a 30-pin cable?
Ordinarily, we'd say no. Connectivity standard changes all the time; new phones and tablets have micro-HDMI ports, for example, but few manufacturers include a compatible cable in the box. But with Apple, this change is a little different.
The success of iPods, iPhone and iPads, and the fact that they all use the same 30-pin connection, has spawned an industry of supported "Apple approved" accessories. We're not talking about a handful of gimmicky accessories, but entire businesses and walls of department stores dedicated to iThings. Apple's US site claims that up to 90 per cent of new cars sold in the US have iPod integration, and where that is speaking to a physical connection, you're talking about the 30-pin plug. Even Apple's biggest competitors, like Samsung, have dedicated systems with docking stations for a range of Apple products.
You could argue that these peripherals are a major part of Apple's enormous success and its ability to retain the loyalty of its customers. People won't buy their first iPhone or iPod for the 30-pin plug, but they might buy their second and third because their accessories are now only compatible with Apple products. This has given Apple a huge advantage in the portable computing market.
"With great power comes great responsibility."
What worries us is the current price of Apple's various 30-pin adapters. The Apple Digital AV Adapter, which lets you connect your phone to a TV, costs AU$45, and that's without an HDMI cable. Even the basic 30-pin to USB cable you get in the box with a new iPhone costs AU$25 to replace, and the wall socket power adapter is another AU$39. Apple could make a decent profit selling 8-pin to 30-pin adapters, but the cost to their continuing success could be much more significant. Latest market share data has iOS slipping in several key markets, and this could slide further if current iPhone owners feel jilted by the lack of extra plastic in the box with their new phone.
What do you think? Should Apple dip into its humungous wealth and pop an adapter in the box with the next iPhone?