Apple Can’t Unilaterally Change the 3.5mm Headphone Standard

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Apple will reveal the new iPhone 7 today and we will finally learn if the rumors of the missing headphone jack and the inclusion of some sort of Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter are true.

At this point, I expect the rumors are accurate. There has been some debate over whether Apple should include the headphone adapter or just sell it as a separate accessory. In my opinion, though, Apple has an obligation to include it because Apple can’t just arbitrarily or unilaterally change the 3.5mm headphone standard.

Moments from now the big Apple event will begin and Apple will unveil the new iPhone 7 models to the world. The new iPhone is expected to be missing a headphone jack for the first time—with Apple supplying Lightning based headphones with the device instead. Apple is also rumored to be including a Lighting-to-3.5mm headphone jack dongle to allow the iPhone to be used with standard-issue headphones as well. A Macworld article proclaimed that including the adapter is a bad idea, but I disagree.

Things change and technology evolves. There always comes a time when one company has to draw a line in the sand and introduce a new product that does not remain anchored to legacy standards. If that didn’t happen, we’d all still have PCs and laptops with 3.5-inch floppy drives and VGA display ports. With the iPhone 7, it seems that Apple is prepared to declare the beginning of the end for traditional headphones in that same way.

The Macworld article points out that Apple also recently replaced the legacy 30-pin charging / syncing port with the Lightning port, but did not include the adapter to convert between the two in the box. It created and sold the 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter for about $30, but it wasn’t included in the box.

In the Macworld post, Michael Simon states, “But while selling an adapter says, “If you need this you can buy it, but we think you can get along without one,” including one in the box is an admission that most people probably need one. In a nutshell, it says the iPhone 7 isn’t good enough.”

While I understand the point Simon is making—that Apple should offer the adapter, but not include it by default—I disagree. There are two reasons I think the headphone jack is a different issue than the 30-pin port was.

Read the full story on Forbes: Why Apple Must Include A Lightning-to-Headphone Adapter.

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I have a passion for technology and gadgets--with a focus on Microsoft and security--and a desire to help others understand how technology can affect or improve their lives. I also love spending time with my wife, 7 kids, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 3 rabbits, 2 ferrets, pot-bellied pig and sulcata tortoise, and I like to think I enjoy reading and golf even though I never find time for either. You can contact me directly at tony@xpective.net. For more from me, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

1 Comment

  1. This is just typical Apple and, like all of their previous attempts at creating a new standard, I doubt it will catch on. They tried this way back when with FireWire and that failed, they’re trying with their own proprietary monitor connection and I haven’t seen that catching, and this too won’t either, at best it’ll be something that’s just an iPhone thing and the rest of the cell phone world will stick to the 3.5mm for the foreseeable future.

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