Newer, Smaller iPhone Dock Connector Looks Like a Done Deal—Now What?
New iPhone rumors should generally be squinted at with the same sort of skepticism you’d apply to homeopathic remedies or Mayan Calendar claims, but as we quickly approach the September 12 announcement of the iPhone 5—or the New iPhone, or simply the iPhone, or whatever Apple ends up calling it (Fred, for all we know)—one aspect of its new design seems almost certain at this point: the 30-pin connector we’ve known and loved for the better part of a decade is being replaced by a newer, slimmer 19-pin (or possibly 9-pin, or maybe even 8-pin) dock connector. iPhone Hacks has an image of the purported new cable, and even if that turns out to be not exactly the new cable we see at the end of this month, the rumors of an itty-bitty new dock port are simply too pervasive to ignore. The change to a more compact adapter is allegedly to make room for more robust batteries, as well as additional features like more powerful antennas.
Whatever the reason, the change to a new dock adapter is going to leave many of us scrambling for new charging cables, and eating up overpriced adapters as quickly as Apple (or whoever) can make them.
This isn’t, of course, the first time Apple has pulled the old port switcheroo on us. In 2003, the old Firewire port included on the original iPod was replaced by a 30-pin connection. A few years later, the shape of the connector remained the same, but the inner workings of the cable changed, sending many of us out in search of new cables.
But it could be argued than even in the middle of last decade, the iPod (and soon the iPhone) hadn’t yet reached the level of critical integration with home audio systems that they do today. Our industry has become indelibly intertwined with iDevices of all shapes and sizes, from the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, not only in the way these products have changed the touch screen control market, but in the way they’ve become central to our audio entertainment experience throughout the home. If your multiroom music system doesn’t integrate iFunctionality in one way or another, it’s painfully out of date.
So is a mere adapter going to be enough? For something like URC’s PSX-2 Personal Server, it should be fine. An adapter will certainly mar the aesthetics of the dock, but functionality shouldn’t be hindered.
What about products like the iPort In-Wall Docking System, where there isn’t really much if any room for an adapter? And that’s if the shape of the iPhone doesn’t significantly change, as other rumors would have us believe.
Needless to say, iEnthusiasts of all stripes are facing some degree of expense in the coming months and years, upgrading cables and maybe even replacing alarm clocks. But our industry stands to be stands to be more impacted than almost any other, with customers potentially facing thousands of dollars in upgrade expenses, not to mention the complications that will arise if Mom, Dad, and the kids don’t all upgrade at the same time.