According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's upcoming iPhone won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack
. The news has already upset many people. The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote on Tuesday that the decision of getting rid of the legacy headphone port is "user hostile and stupid."
Apple commentator John Gruber makes a case for why Apple's supposed move is not a bad idea at all
. He writes:Patel misses the bigger problem. It's not enforcement of DRM on audio playback. It's enforcement of the MFi Program for certifying hardware that uses the Lightning port. Right now any headphone maker in the world can make any headphones they want for the standard jack. Not so with the Lightning port.
He adds that the existing analog headphone jack "is more costly in terms of depth than thickness
," and by getting rid of it, Apple could use the extra real estate to stuff in more battery juice. Addressing Patel's point that the move of ditching a deeply established standard will "disproportionately impact accessibility," Gruber adds that "enabling, open, and democratizing" have never been high on Apple's list of priorities for external ports. Gruber also addressed Patel's argument that introducing a Lightning Port-enabled headphone feature will make Android and iPhone headphones incompatible. He wrote: Why would Apple care about headphone compatibility with Android? If Apple gave two shits about port compatibility with Android, iPhones would have Micro-USB ports. In 1998 people used floppy drives extensively for sneaker-netting files between Macs and PCs. That didn't stop Apple from dropping it.
As for "nobody is asking" Apple to remove headphone jack from the next iPhone, Gruber reminds: This is how it goes. If it weren't for Apple we'd probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports. The essence of Apple is that they make design decisions "no one asked for".
The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around for decades. We can either live with it forever, or try doing something better instead. History suggests that OEMs from across the world quickly replicate Apple's move. Just the idea of Apple removing the headphone jack -- the rumor of which first began last year -- arguably played an instrumental role in some smartphones shipping without the legacy port this year. If this is a change that we really need, Apple is perhaps the best company to set the tone for it. Though, whether we really need to get rid of the headphone jack remains debatable.