Apple’s familiar 30-pin dock connector has been on death row for at least two years. The EU decreed, for once with some sense, that from 2010 all mobile phones should have a standard USB-micro connector. This, by and large, has already come to pass. Apple is now odd fruit out. Last autumn a small Apple-to-micro adaptor was announced in a mini fanfare and has not been seen since. I have asked after its wellbeing at various Apple stores and most times the blueshirts have never heard of it.
There are more rumours this week of the dock connector’s impending demise. I firmly believe this will happen, perhaps not this year (it is suggested that the next iPhone could have a micro-USB connector) but sometime soon.
The USB micro-B is becoming a universal fitting and most mobiles, including Android smartphones, manage well with it. Use of micro-B would achieve standardisation for Apple but it would also free up a smidgeon of space inside the device.
I have mixed views. When I bought my first Apple product, an iPod, I was immediately impressed by the 30-pin dock connector. It clicked into place firmly (in those days there were two buttons, one on either side, to open the fixing prongs) and was superior to the multitude of different connectors then favoured by competitors.
At first, after the introduction of the first iPhone, you had to be careful not to leave your sync cable at home when going away: Opportunities to buy an Apple cable were few and far between. Now, though there is a store on every corner willing to sell you a knock-off charger and cable.
Changing over is not going to be easy. For a time there will be Apple products on the market with different systems. It will take a year or two before all versions of the iPhone and iPad have standardised on the new connector. Then there is the problem of peripherals. Consumers have invested fortunes in speakers and other devices that will require adaptors—never a pretty solution—with the result that the changeover will be very disruptive.
Despite this lingering respect for the big Apple connector, we cannot deny progress and I think it is now only a matter of time before Apple joins the crowd.