The Apple I/O Death Chart

Nilay Patel:

But how long does it really take Apple to kill legacy tech? We threw together a chart to map it out. (It would be fun to do this across the entire tech industry, but finding all that data seems virtually impossible. If you figure it out email me and we’ll run it!)

What I never realized is that most Apple I/O standards last about 15 years, give or take. Even the floppy, which seems like a monumental change when it was removed from the iMac, was only around for 15 years. We take the traditional USB connector for granted, but it’s also been around for about 18 years, and you can see how the new MacBook is ushering it out in favor of USB-C. It’s an interesting cycle.

Not listed in The Verge’s chart: ethernet. I feel like that’s a good precedent for this headphone jack thing. Ethernet is faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi, but Apple dropped it from the MacBook Air years ago, and now doesn’t even include an Ethernet port on the MacBook Pros.

The more I think about it, the more I realize the trend isn’t just toward eliminating ports on devices — it’s about reducing the number of cables you use. There probably will be Lightning headphones and Lightning for audio out on the upcoming iPhones, but I think Apple’s push is going to be toward wireless. Cables are inherently fiddly, and fiddliness is un-Apple-like. Update: Yes, you can still use Ethernet on a MacBook, using an Ethernet-to-USB adapter. I have one of those in my bag. When Apple obsoletes a port, they don’t forbid you from using it. They discourage you from using it by requiring an adapter. I think the same will be true of 3.5mm headphones. (Hell, I’m typing these very words on an ADB keyboard.)

(User-replaceable batteries don’t qualify as I/O, but that’s another bit of fiddliness that Apple eliminated in the face of criticism that doing so was user-hostile. And I’ll bet they were used in PowerBooks and MacBooks for about 15 years. Update: 18 years starting from the original PowerBook — or 20, if you count the Macintosh Portable.)

Wednesday, 29 June 2016