Apple removes iPhone 7 headphone jack: evolution or obstruction?

OPINION / 12th October 2016

Earlier this month Apple hosted its ‘Special Event’, launching the iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2 and Watch OS 2. Despite Apple’s consistent ability to release an impressive suite of new technology and features, the public’s attention, for better or for worse, was centred around just one of Apple’s latest moves: the removal of the headphone jack. 

A range of views on what is controversially being called ‘Apple’s courageous leap’ has been splashed across the media, so we thought we’d share our views too. 

ORM’s MD Keith Nation and Creative Partner, Peter Gough, gave contrasting views on the bold move. So will Apple’s vision spark a change in consumer behaviour or will it fail miserably? 

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Keith Nation, MD & CTO at ORM says,

“When Apple announced they were removing the headphone jack from their next-gen iPhone 7 my initial reaction was, to put it mildly, frustration. 

For a company that purports to care so much about the user and their experience this was yet another example of them forcing change at will. The jack plug has been around for a long time, with the 3.5mm version being made popular by companies, such as Sony with their miniaturised personal stereos in the 80s. 

It's been part of the iPhone since the start and has allowed us to plug a myriad of audio devices into the phone, basically anything with an aux input: cars, amplifiers etc. I use mine to plug audio from an electric guitar through to an audio effects app, which runs on my iPhone 6. It's great, very simple and low cost and makes me sound like Hendrix! 

That world is now fast disappearing, with those who still want to stay in the Apple eco-system being forced to buy another expensive Apple accessory to convert old kit to the lightning connector.”

 

Yet, Peter Gough, Creative Partner & Founder at ORM explains,

“There’s been rumours that Apple was going to drop the headphone jack for a while now. A 3.5mm audio jack that’s been with us since the 19th century is being removed — and why? To make space for more important technology and to allow phones to get slimmer.

Look around, people are moving to new forms of connecting; we’re using bluetooth to connect to our cars, to external speakers and to each other. Our next headsets will probably be wireless and this is what Apple are predicting, even with the Lightning dongle there to appease all those 'audiophiles' with expensive headphones.

If you are from my generation, you will remember the hoo-haa when Apple decided to release the iMac without a 3.5” floppy disk, there was uproar! And then the CD/DVD drive a few years later.

So, what's my opinion? Move on, accept the change, there’s more important things to worry about.

Footnote: Only today, my audio jack saved my iPhone 6 from falling onto Oxford Street. So naturally, I later performed a ‘hanging-my-iPhone by lightning cable’ test, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the audio jack, which I assume will result in Apple having to repair more smashed screens. A win-win for Apple!

It seems time will only tell. Watch the video below to see what other members of the ORM team thought. 

Keith Nation Keith Nation Managing Director & CTO Keith Nation
Peter Gough Peter Gough Managing Partner & Founder Peter Gough