On Apple’s courage

I’ve never owned an iPhone, and although I don’t exclude the possibility, the prospect appeared to become more remote with Apple’s widely panned announcement of the iPhone 7.  The focus of said panning, the removal of the audio jack, an efficient, capable and widely adopted standard that has its origins in 19th century technology.  There’s no way around it, it’s clearly and obviously a huge problem for Apple users and Apple will no doubt lose many in their next phone purchase:

And so when Apple talk of “courage”, it is not courage to make risky design decisions which will somehow free us from tangled headphone cables, or whatever other convoluted explanation Apple apologists offer.  The iPhone 7 will, unquestionably, be worse for users.

Apple’s courage is to use their huge market power and distinct advantages over the Android ecosystem.  The iPhone is a modern day colossus, and the centre of gravity for much of the technology industry.  But it will not be forever.  Apple’s great challenge is to extend this hegemony.  It will not do this with ridiculous wireless ear-buds, but it will by taking the lead in defining new categories of peripherals at which its platform is at the centre.  As Ben Evans points out, smartphones are reaching the top of the S-Curve.  Apple owns (and will continue to own) enough of the top of the market that it can force this through. The Android ecosystem is, by design, too diverse than any one vendor can follow suit.

And so Apple is accelerating into the post-iPhone future, which entails risks, but offers great rewards. Rather than trying to escape, Apple are turning towards the torpedo before it can arm itself.

If you care about standards, if you want technology to be equitably consumed, if you care about the environmental damage of technological waste, Apple’s courage should appall you. If you care about none of these things, and have a long position on Apple stock, you should probably be pleased.


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