Apple Does This Sort of Thing

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

From Stephen Hackett over on 512 Pixels:

When Apple pushes into the future, it usually does so without much regard for the present. A bunch of people are conflicted about this computer, but Mac users should be used to that by now.

I don't want to say people who are concerned about their ability to work as easily with the new MacBook Pros with their 4 Thunderbolt ports, but removing things that were once considered "essential" is literally Apple's M.O.

  • ADB
  • VGA
  • DVI
  • Floppy drive
  • CD/DVD
  • Ethernet
  • Firewire
  • 30 Pin dock connector
  • Headphone jack
  • USB type A (the USB you think of when someone says "USB")

I've been there for every one of these ports' removal, and it's been ugly every time. We've always argued about the timing, and competitors have always proudly proclaimed they have all the ports you need. Apple fans have defended the company's drive to push the industry forward, while critics have lambasted them for jumping ahead while punishing those of us unlucky enough to live merely in the present.

This is what we signed up for. This is what we have loved about Apple for years. As they say, it's often easy to lose the forest for the trees. Let's take a quick look back at some of these previous controversial removals.

Engadget when Apple removed the DVD drive in 2011:

I don't like it. Not one iota. But frankly, it doesn't much matter -- Apple's officially done with the optical drive. ... Despite the obvious -- that consumers would buy a mini to reduce the sheer burden of operating a convoluted desktop setup -- Apple's gone and yanked what has become a staple in both Macs and PCs alike. For years, ODDs have been standard fare

Here's The Verge when Apple removed the 30 pin connector in 2012:

Every iPhone and iPod user who upgrades to a new device will require new cables or adapters, and every company which makes iPhone accessories has an opportunity and a challenge ahead to make that transition as painless as possible. Entire categories of product, like the speaker dock, could go away if they’re too costly to redesign or if consumers feel burnt by the cycle of obsolescence.

This gem of a comment in 2012 on the MacBook Pro design that we wish Apple had stuck closer to this year:

So NICE screen, but: No DVD drive; No Ethernet; No swappable battery; No kensington lock; No VGA port;

So not really useful for a traveling professional.

TechRepublic on the removal of Ethernet in the 2012 MacBook Pro:

The Ethernet port is another story.

Wireless Internet is more available today than it was five years ago, but it's not universal. The office where I work has a public Wi-Fi hotspot, but no behind-the-firewall wireless network. I could use our VPN, but that connection doesn't give me complete access to my network shares. It's also very slow. Given the comments on CNET's first take on the MacBook Pro with Retina display, many people are in the same boat.
In the next few years, I have no doubt that wired Ethernet will go the way of the optical disc. But for now, those who want a next-generation MacBook Pro and still need a wired Ethernet port will just have to cough up another $29 (US) for the Apple Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter.

And finally, Nilay Patel's widely read piece on Apple's user-hostile move to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone 7:

Look, I know you’re going to tell me that the traditional TRS headphone jack is a billion years old and prone to failure and that life is about progress and whatever else you need to repeat deliriously into your bed of old HTC extUSB dongles and insane magnetic Palm adapters to sleep at night. But just face facts: ditching the headphone jack on phones makes them worse, in extremely obvious ways. Let’s count them!