Is Apple’s New Lightning Connector a Dead End?

Apple fans will view the introduction of the new Apple Lightning Connector with mixed emotions because while the new plug enables their gadgets to continue the march towards minuteness, all existing Apple plugs and accessories have been rendered moot. If you are a hotel chain with thousands of alarm clocks and treadmills which have the old Apple connectors in place you have a huge choice to make… Do you upgrade the devices or provide adapters at $29 apiece? The Wall Street Journal has an article today which details how a hotel chain called NYLO just upgraded its hotel rooms with almost 600 iPhone-dock clock radios which are now potentially obsolete.

One company taking advantage of the situation is Jawbone who has a creative new video out showing how the dock is dead. The video below shows a number of old-style iPhone connector dock accessories blowing up. The idea here is their bluetooth-enabled portable speakers are the way to go.

At the end, the company touts its Big Jambox which I have used and am truly impressed with.


In a way, you have to hand it to Apple for finally breaking down and coming out with a new connector – especially since the old 30-pin plug had a number of unused wires. But this news also reminds me of the move by IBM in 1987 to evolve the bus of the PC from ISA to Micro Channel (MCA).

If you remember, MCA was far superior to ISA and would have done very well if IBM didn’t pursue licensing fees from computer companies using the design. As a result of this decision, the industry evolved to EISA, VESA and eventually PCI – none of which IBM directly controlled.

With all the patent lawsuits coming out of Cupertino these days one wouldn’t be surprised if they were to copy IBM in this regard and go after companies using this new connector standard and eroding Apple’s sales.

Either way, this new Lightning connector is a major underdog when you consider how many microUSB devices are out in the wild these days. For the sake of Apple fans who will no doubt upgrade all the devices and accessories they can, one hopes the new connector isn’t a dead end.

For more, Lance Whitney has a nice discussion of why Apple offers a Lightning to USB adapter in Europe only. 

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