Strawphone: Arguing against the iPhone 7

Macalope

People are very upset about the iPhone 7 which they haven’t seen. All of its rumored features are extremely upsetting. Very rude of Apple to do what they may or may not be doing.

Over at The Verge, Nilay Patel says “Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid.” (Tip o’ the antlers to ppanic.)

THIS PHONE I HAVE NOT SEEN IS A VERITABLE HITLER OF A PHONE. Hashbrown analysis.

Have some dignity

If there is anything that more represents dignity than a headphone jack then the Macalope hasn’t heard of it. I mean, it’s certainly not HDMI out, amirite?! Ha-ha! What a weasel of a port! High five!

(We are still talking about ports, right? Because now the Macalope’s not sure what Patel is talking about anymore.)

We’re so out of ideas that actively making [phones] sh*ttier and more user-hostile is the only innovation left.

Is it simply beyond conception that Apple, the company famous for making products that people really like, might have what the kids who are no longer kids but are now stuck in middle-management call “a value proposition”? This is not, as Patel complains, saying “Apple knows best” but rather “Wait until you see the thing you’re complaining about.”

Sorry, the Macalope knows that’s silly. What was he thinking? Please continue to savage your strawphone.

John Gruber contends that removing the headphone jack is akin to shipping the first iMac without a floppy drive. Pick your own metaphor but, while progress is sometimes painful, the Macalope would never go back to floppies, serial cables, Dock Connectors or SCSI terminators.

And “SCSI” was very fun to say!

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.

A lot of amateur writers will make the mistake of trying to refute arguments. What a waste of time. Dismissing them out of hand is always the way to go.

On Twitter, Patel links favorably to this post by Steve Streza which claims “Gruber misses the point completely” and says:

We’re just supposed to assume that this is a better solution, and that it “seems like it might be the right time”, based on… who knows.

No, it’s far better to assume that this is a worse solution and that it is “not the right time” based on… who knows. That’s the only rational course of action.

To be clear, the Macalope is not saying that this will be nothing but kittens and cotton candy. He’s saying there might be benefits you don’t know about yet or haven’t considered.

Patel only devotes time to the potential downsides.

1. Digital audio means DRM audio

Are you still talking about that? The industry lost this one, then all you ding-dongs decided you wanted streaming services and you opted back into DRM. You chose DRM! And why? It’s cheaper if you want a lot of music. You got something for it. Much like you might get something for ditching the headphone jack.

2. Wireless headphones and speakers are fine, not great

True. But, while it makes it easier to make an argument if you cherry pick rumors, Gruber notes the rumors have the iPhone 7 shipping with wired Lightning headphones.

3. Dongles are stupid, especially when they require other dongles

They are! But dongles are an interim solution designed to hold you over until either you or the technology catches up.

4. Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility

Patel’s not talking about accessibility for those with physical disabilities, he’s talking about cheap and easy access to peripherals and, yeah, Lightning cables cost more than mini USB cables. But if you’re an Apple customer, you’re already buying a premium product and sometimes making a premium product means not using commodity components. You could argue that all devices should use the cheapest and most widely available components, but then you wouldn’t be an Apple customer.

5. Making Android and iPhone headphones incompatible is so incredibly arrogant and stupid there’s not even explanatory text under this one

What color is the sky on the planet where Apple should make things easier for people who use their competitors’ products? The Macalope’s going to guess rainbow sherbet, Rocky Road or anything else that’s actually a dessert instead of a color.

6. No one is asking for this

“I have learned literally nothing from Apple’s example over the years. I am an impenetrable slab of material, made from an unidentified element with an extremely high atomic weight, and am unsullied by things that Apple has done repeatedly because surely they have no bearing in this instance.”

This is a non-argument. You can, of course, point to things that no one asked for that turned out to be crap. But you can just as easily point to other things no one asked for and make the point that the overall product was awesome and, in some instances, market-changing. And those instances are often products that Apple shipped. You might as well say “Pudding is delicious”, it matters about as much to this discussion.

Look, the Macalope’s not completely sold on this change. How could he be? He hasn’t seen it yet. There are two extremist stances you can take. One is “OMG DITCHING THE HEADPHONE JACK WILL BE THE BEST THING EVER!” The other is the one Patel took, that it’s the worst thing ever.

Seems like a more reasonable response would be “Let’s wait and see what the benefits might be.”

Yeah, yeah. The Macalope just suggested people be reasonable on the Internet. He regrets the error.

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