May They Get Struck with Lightning


I wrote in a previous article that iPhones are aggressively being stolen throughout Asia. The statistics seem to show that possessing an iPhone on your person is the single leading indicator of whether you are likely to be mugged in Asia. And, that trend is emerging even with the United States.

Of course, this threat to personal safety is easily fixed. Apple could add anti-theft to iPhones so that when a phone was erased a reactivation would be required and would be refused if the phone was marked as “Lost.” But that would cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars of “blood money.”

So, now that I have replaced my latest stolen iPhone with an iPhone 5 I have been struck by Lightning a second time.

I have nothing kind to say about the new proprietary Lightning cable. I can’t charge my iPhone in my car. When I forget the cable the hotels cannot help me. When I am out of the country I cannot buy a replacement cable. I can’t use my radio dock. It’s a real, honest inconvenience.

I think the lightening connector needs to be put into clear context:

  1. It offers no benefits.
  2. It is not better than a micro-USB
  3. It is a tremendous inconvenience.
  4. It is expensive.

I don’t have any problem with Apple innovating. And, Apple is a great innovator. I usually love their stuff.

When Apple innovates they offer something better. They offer new and compelling features. They draw you to their products with desire and lust. This is why I buy Apple and it is what has made Apple great.

But the Lightning cable is like getting flogged. It offers no compelling features. It isn’t better. It’s simply worse. It’s incompatible. It’s anti-customer. And, because of this I think it is anti-Steve Jobs. Steve always drew you in with honey.

Let’s stand back for a moment on this issue and think clearly…

The 30-pin connector that Apple has used is clearly long in the tooth. It’s not a pretty connector, most of its functionality isn’t really needed anymore. There is not much excuse for continuing with it.

The only real reason that a connector is needed on an iPhone is so that it can be charged. You can AirPlay video and audio. Bluetooth accessories allow wireless streaming of music and headsets. You can wirelessly sync with iTunes. Screen mirroring is available via Apple TV. Remind me again what you really need a 30-pin connector for? I can’t think of a reason.

So, the case can be easily made for eliminating a connector entirely. Except: for charging the phone.

Apple has consistently made great engineering decisions in the past. And, the great engineering decision would have been to use a universal micro-USB connector on the iPhone.

Using a standard micro-USB cable would have allowed the iPhone to be charged and even would have allowed syncing and data via USB. It would have been compatible with every charger out there, every cable, ad every computer. It would mean that when I trek to

Colin Berkshire