Apple has never been afraid of making bold statements with its products.
Whether it was binning the floppy disc from the original iMac or deciding to use only USB–C in its latest MacBook, the tech giant seems to be built on the idea of knowing what consumers want before they do.
Now, it seems, Apple is about to bring this maxim to its biggest cash cow of all, the iPhone.
Reports from Japan indicate that next year’s iPhone 7 will ditch the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack found in virtually every smartphone, tablet and PC on the planet and instead force users to plug in their headphones via the device’s Lightning charging port.
There have been rumours about such plans in the past. Indeed, Apple began allowing third parties to make headphones using Lightning connectors last year. Philips has a range which does just that.
But offering manufacturers the chance to do so and forcing users to make a major change are two very different things.
Word is Apple will release its own pair of EarPods with a Lightning connector at the same time as the iPhone 7, while a special adapter will also be available. At a price, of course.
This is the kind of move that Apple loves. It’ll cause the industry to go ballistic, will send certain consumers into a fury. But, at the end of the day, is unlikely to make any impact at all on burgeoning iPhone sales.
If Apple can break records with an iterative update like the iPhone 6s, it can certainly do the same with the iPhone 7.
The question is, why now? Well, it seems Apple can only see one way of making its iPhone even thinner. And that means binning the 3.5mm jack.
The 'other' question is, will improved design be enough to convince users to either buy a new set of headphones or an adapter? Or will older models prove more alluring?
It’s a calculated gamble. But Apple presumably believes that those who buy fancier headphones for their iPhones are in the minority, with many more consumers using the poor but serviceable ones which come bundled with the device.
If that is the case, you can expect plenty of seething from sections of the tech press next autumn, while the rest of the world spends its spare cash on a new iPhone.
Apple’s been here before. The iMac didn’t suffer because of a lack of a floppy disc drive. Modern Macs sell in huge numbers despite the lack of an optical drive.
The world changes and, Apple is hoping, it can once again force the tech world to do what it thinks is best.