Innovation, Technology

Headphone homicide. What Apple wants, Apple gets


That’s what they call people with blind loyalty to Apple. Sheep difficult to wean off the grass of Farmer Job and Farmer Cook.

I’ve owned three MacBooks, one iPad, and four iPhones, so I guess I’m one of those sheep. The folks at 1 Infinite Loop have my number. And how they love to dial it!

Phil Schiller: “Hello Jide, we had you in mind when developed the iPhone 7. We  know 7 is   your lucky  number…”

Craig Federighi: “Jide, have you seen ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ on the iPad Pro? It’s simply the only way a movie should be seen…”

Jony Ive:  “You know, Jide, at Apple, we believe that the best way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it.That is why we have made Watch to the sophistication and elegance you’ve come to love in an Apple product…”

By the way, I’m resisting Watch with every ounce of my will, and so far I am succeeding. I haven’t sold all my dignity to Apple. Yet.

But pre and post iPhone 7 reveal, there’s been a lot of outrage in the technosphere at Apple’s decision to nix the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. The iPhone 7 still ships with EarPods, only they come with a Lightning connector in place of the venerable 3.5mm jack. This means you plug the EarPods into the same Lightning port you use in charging the phone.

The sticking point of this 3.5mm jack homicide is that you can no longer listen to music through the EarPods or any wired headphone and charge your iPhone at the same time. Well, not with an additional outlay in some adapter, like the $40 Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar.With a price like that, the name had better rock.

But why has Apple nixed the headphone jack?

Digital Power. Apple says the 3.5 mm headphone jack is an analog port. Replacing it with the digital Lightning means you can, say, change music tracks on your iPhone straight from your headphones. The Lightning will also charge the headphones. That is, the Apple EarPods. 

Space for Awesomeness. Apple also says the iPhone is teeming with amazing technology and that if you really want this awesome stuff in there, well, you have to create the space for it, don’t you. Space otherwise gobbled up by an analog headphone jack.

The Future is Wireless. Apple believes the future of everything is all wireless. A wirelessness presaged by its snazzy Bluetooth AirPods.

Waterproofing. Removing the 3.5mm jack also help make the iPhone vastly water-resistant.

That’s all great. But I really don’t care. I want my headphone jack. You’ve got (Sir) Jony Ive locked in a basement philosophising on designs. I want all the awesomeness and I also want my headphone jack. You’re Apple, for Pete’s sake. Figure it out.

But it has suddenly occurred to me that what Apple wants, Apple gets.

Remember when it killed the 30-pin dock connector on the iPhone, iPod and iPad for Lightning in 2012? We railed and ranted, but here we are. Heck, I didn’t even remember we ever had the 30-pin connector.

Then there was also the nixing of the SuperDrive on the Mackbook. Whoever made a laptop without a CD/DVD drive? Well, Apple does. A Macbook without a CD drive has become the new normal.But I suspect the anger of many at the elimination of the headphone jack is more about Apple believing it can do whatever it pleases without consequences rather than the actual inconvenience of the elimination.

That’s what phenomenal brand equity gives you. Liberty to take risks and to err. If you drank a poor cup of coffee at Starbucks, it’s because some farmer in Ethiopia quarrelled with is wife and grew bad coffee beans. Never Starbucks’ fault. Brands with extremely high customer loyalty index get cut some slack and can easily explain away a misstep with little damage to its equity.

Apple’s earned that equity though. The company didn’t just make great products, it also also sold them brilliantly. It tapped into something deep inside of people and connected its product(s)s to it. It understands that what you make is just as important as what you make people feel.

So, my good marketing chums, that’s the ROI of marketing investments right there. Freedom from the consequences of sin. Look your CEO and CFO in the eye and ask them, “how would you love to do anything you wanted without fear of punishment?”

I leave you with this parody video of Sir Jony Ive and the thinnest product Apple has ever made. Thought it was a great laugh!


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