There has been a lot of discussion around the poor quality of the recently released Apple maps app. To be fair, Apple has taken a disproportionate amount of flak for this, given that the majority of their apps tend to reasonably solid when released. The whole maps affair seems to have overshadowed negative reaction to the new “Lightning” cable that comes with the iPhone 5. The new cable marks a move away from the standard 30 pin connector that has been around for nearly a decade. Apple justifies the change in connector on the basis that the new, slimmer format of the iPhone 5 will not support the old one. I may be up there with the Mayans in terms of the reliability of my predictions, but I believe the new cable marks the beginning of the end for the iPhone’s dominance of the smart phone market for two main reasons.
Firstly, an adapter is required to allow legacy peripheral devices to connect to the new cable. Instead of providing this free, Apple has the temerity to charge its customers USD29 for the adapter. Given that most Apple lovers probably have upwards of 5 devices that use the old 30 pin connector the cost could easily start to add up.
Secondly (and for me this is the more insidious element in Apple’s evil masterplan), the cable itself is completely proprietary. What’s wrong with USB? I’ve seen some arguments that suggest Apple devices need a proprietary cable to support the transfer of multi-media content at high speeds. I don’t buy this given that other smart devices appear to be doing pretty much the same thing with USB. Wikipedia tells me that the new USB 3.0 specification supports transmission speeds of up to 5GB/s. Call me cynical, but I wouldn’t have thought the interface would represent the bottleneck on an iPhone at that speed. Still not convinced? Take a look at the list of seven companies involved in the development of the original USB specification (clue: Apple is not one of them).
“Lightning” strikes me a simply another way for Apple to fleece its loyal customer base. If people continue to buy iPhones I think it will be in spite of the new cable. During the 90s and early 00s I always had a Nokia phone. Nokia had a spectacularly annoying habit of changing their proprietary connector cables and chargers with each new model they released. It drove me mad and as soon as the competition caught up and started making phones to a comparable (often better) standard I made the switch to something else.
The iPhone no longer has the pre-eminence in the smart phone marketplace it once had. Samsung and other Android-based devices are making strong inroad into Apple’s market share. Microsoft’s pairing with Nokia is going to prove popular with long-suffering fans of Windows mobile operating systems. Die-hard Apple fans will no doubt continue to buy iPhones, but I think they will start to lose the middle ground. For me, I now see that the Emperor is in fact simply butt-naked. I’m off to buy a Samsung.