Why the Headphone Jack is the Same as the 30-Pin Connector

George Bernard Shaw, an Irish playwright and critic, once said, “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.” As eloquent as this quotation is, it comes down to one simple truth: history repeats itself. On September 7th, 2016, Apple dropped the headphone jack and there were mixed responses. Most people resulted to condemning Apple on social media, few praised Apple for their efforts to modernize, and some, or maybe just me, slowly cried themselves to sleep next to their analog headphones. No matter the case there is one thing for certain: Apple got rid of the headphone jack and we are mostly upset. But, is this the first time Apple has gotten rid of old technology on their phones, replaced it with the lightning port in efforts to modernize their phones, and we all have responded radically negatively? Definitely not.

Recall back to 2012, when Phil Schiller, dare I mention the name, announced that Apple would get rid of their old 30-pin connector as their charging port for the new, modern lightning connector.

In this event, Schiller explained, “A lot has changed and it is time for the connector to evolve.” Apple has had a history of seeking thinner phones, as he said, “It is more durable, and much easier to use because now you can plug it into either direction it doesn’t matter. And best of all for the engineering team to make a product like this, it is 80% smaller.” He concludes his speech by calming his audience with, “This is a 30-pin to lightning adapter. And it works just like you would expect. You can plug a 30-pin connector into it, and into your iPhone 5.” This is irrefutably exactly like the predicament Apple has themselves in now. They got rid of an old port that iPhone users loved, and replaced it with the lightning port because it is inherently more useful. On top of that, they met consumers halfway by offering a cheap adapter for all their devices that use the old port.

The initial response to this sudden change was Apple being criticized by the media for cultivating a scheme for users to buy new chargers, thereby boosting Apple’s profits in a moment of weakness. However, as the lightning charger became more popular, consumers began to realize its benefits, and how necessary the change was to engineering a more innovative device for years to come. The new lightning port provided many more opportunities for innovations in the phone, as there was a significant amount of new, open space. There is not a soul out there that would prefer the 30-pin on their device at this moment, and everyone has come to understand that it is smaller, reversible, and faster, all qualities that are required in a contemporary smartphone.

So, yes, history does repeat itself. At the moment, Apple may seem like a bunch of supervillains sitting in the towers of 1 Infinite Loop slowly milking the money out of your pockets with new lightning headphones. But in reality, even if they are these antagonists and are unaware of it, they are simply forcing consumers into the future. It is necessary for us to recognize that the analog headphone jack is outdated, and just like the 30-pin connector that we held so dear, it must be removed from the modern iPhone.

For perspective, here are some things that Phil Schiller said in 2012 versus what he said in 2016. They are shockingly similar:

2012 2016
“What about all the devices and speakers and connectors you have now, that already use the 30-pin connector?”…“This is a 30-pin to lightning adapter.” “Now we know there are people in the world who do have some analog, old connected devices out there.”…“We have also made this, it is lightning to mini phono adapter.”
“[The 30-pin connector] has served us well for almost a decade. But so much has changed since we first created that 30-pin connector” “[The headphone jack] has been with us a really long time. I’m sure you know the source of this miniphono jack is over 100 years old, used to help quickly exchange in switchboards.”
“So many of the things we used to do over the wire, we now do wirelessly.” “We do have a vision for how audio should work on mobile devices, and that takes us to our next feature: Wireless.”
“We are working with accessory makers to have them integrate lightning connectors into products you may choose to buy.” “[The lightning port] is perhaps the largest digital audio connection in the world. And there are speakers and headphones that decided to take advantage of it.”
“[Lightning] is adaptive to what those signals need to be for the different accessories you might need to plug into.” “We designed lightning to be a great digital audio connector.”

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