No, Apple is not about to make every set of earphones on Earth useless

Any move to ditch the iPhone's headphone jack can be chalked up to 'no big deal'

Tags: Apple Incorporated
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No, Apple is not about to make every set of earphones on Earth useless We have next to no idea about whether the iPhone 7 will have a headphone jack or not
By  Tom Paye Published  January 6, 2016

This afternoon, a link from petition website Sum of Us was widely circulated on Twitter, with plenty voicing enthusiastic support for it. The petition is titled "Apple is ditching the standard headphone jack to screw consumers and the planet", and it calls for signatories to demand that Apple "keep the standard headphone jack in your iPhones!"

The petition, of course, refers to the rumours that, on the upcoming iPhone 7, Apple may not include a standard headphone jack. Instead, it is rumoured, the device will feature the standard Lightning port, which can be used for charging or for plugging in headphones. The device may even ship with wireless headphones as standard.

Morons have reacted to this news furiously, with Twitter users sharing this petition with the caption, "Apple is about to make every set of earphones in the world useless."

This statement might take the cake for the stupidest thing ever written in 2016 - and we're only six days into the year.

The petition, which already has over 3,600 signatures, starts off with, "Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again," before going on to say that "the new iPhone 7 will have a non-standard, proprietary headphone jack - making every pair of headphones on Earth useless."

It goes on to say that the sole reason for Apple's desire to remove the headphone jack is so that it can leverage its market share in order to extract even more profit from its customers.

Let's take this point by point.

Firstly, we have next to no idea about whether the iPhone 7 will have a headphone jack or not. It's been rumoured the Apple will ditch the socket so that it can create a thinner device, but nothing has been confirmed nor denied. Indeed, the same rumour came out about the iPhone 6S, which, lo and behold, still features a headphone jack. So let's not get too worked up just yet.

Secondly, the point that Apple removing the headphone jack from its iPhone will render every pair of headphones on Earth useless is laughably insane. Apple sold an estimated 135m iPhones in the first half of fiscal 2015, so, for the sake of argument, let's call it a round 200m per year. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But don't forget that the global smartphone install base is around 2.5bn units.

So, assuming Apple sells 200m iPhone 7s over the course of the year, it'll mean that no more than 8% of global smartphone users are running one. Maybe those 200m users won't be able to use their old headphones on these devices, but 92% of smartphone users will be able to use old headphones (assuming other vendors keep the old headphone jack).

Suddenly, this claim about every pair of earphones on Earth being made useless is looking a little overblown, isn't it?

Onto the next point, that Apple is removing the headphone jack so that it can leverage its market share in order to extract even more profit from its customers. While I admit that Apple does indeed do this in some cases (as does every business, big or small), it is clearly not the driving reason behind a potential decision to ditch the headphone jack.

If Apple is looking to remove the port from its next iPhone, it will be for a product design reasons first and foremost. Perhaps Apple sees an all-wireless future for us, one in which we may never have to suffer a tangled mess of headphone cables again. Perhaps it simply wants to create a thinner device. I strongly doubt, however, that there would be any malice behind the decision.

I'd liken such a move to the introduction of the Lightning port on the iPhone 5. People were furious that their third-party docks featuring 30-pin plugs were no longer compatible (until third-party adaptors came along, like, two weeks later) with the new devices. But, a few years down the line, when every iPhone user has a Lightning plug, the tech world is agreed on the fact that the Lightning port is superior to the old, 30-pin one. There was a little pain along the way, but it turned out to be broadly the right decision.

The same may well happen with the headphone jack. We may find that, just as we no longer need tapes or CDs, we don't need headphone jacks.

Sure, you may have a beloved pair of headphones, and you might be disappointed to find out that you won't be able to use them on a new iPhone. But let's remember that you are under no obligation to buy a new iPhone. When purchasing one, you will simply have to factor that into your decision. Do you buy a new iPhone, and keep the old one for listening to music with your old headphones? Or do you simply ditch your old headphones because it's easier to have your music on a single device? Or do you not buy a new phone at all?

Either way, it's your choice, and none of the manufacturers behind your devices should be held responsible for that choice.

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