It’s a beautiful morning in San Francisco, California on September 7th, 2016. Technology enthusiasts around the world tune into Apple’s big announcement for its new flagship smartphone. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium is filled with anxious fans, journalists, and Apple employees to witness the launch of the new iPhone.
Tim Cook takes the stage and after a few updates unveils the iPhone 7. Everyone’s excited to hear what this new phone has to offer. Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, takes the stage and (after discussing a few new features) tells the world that this new flagship will do something incredibly ‘courageous’ and not come with a headphone jack.
The controversy began. Reviewers had mixed feelings about this new feature (or the lack thereof), people took to social media to lament about how Apple does things it’s own way without keeping customers needs first and competitors took it as the perfect opportunity to advertise about their phones having the headphone jack. Thousands of memes floated around mocking Apple’s ‘courageous vision for the future’. People thought it would never catch on and Apple would end up losing a large part of its customer base to its competitors.
Fast forward to today. Google who mocked the iPhone 7’s missing headphone jack, announces its new flagship smartphones: Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Both coming with a plethora of features but with one notable loss, the headphone jack. In fact, the Essential Phone, Motorola’s Moto Z, HTC’s U Ultra, Xiaomi’s MI Mix 2, LeEco Le S3 and Le Pro 3 all got rid of a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack.
Wasn’t this the ‘courage’ that everyone was mocking Apple for?
Well yes. But a quick insight into how the tech industry works should help you understand why things are moving towards this direction.
Apple is in a unique position in the industry thanks to its loyal customer base that it can rely on. They are one of the most valuable and influential companies in the world. This gives them the ability to make a daring move that most companies simply cannot afford to do. It’s a hard gamble but Apple loves that and with the power they have and the customer loyalty they can rely on, new trends they set can catch on pretty quickly throughout the industry.
Why remove something so crucial?
Technology companies constantly work on creating the most powerful, and feature-packed products on the market to have a competitive edge. Part of doing this means maximizing the use of every single centimeter of space the phone has. This space is essentially treated like real-estate and can be used to add additional hardware for increased features or improve existing ones like the battery.
Now that companies know people are still not (for the most part) refusing to buy the iPhone 7 because of the lack of the headphone jack, they are ready to do that on their own smartphones as well.
Apple’s push towards a wireless future is something hard to swallow for now but in the dynamic industry of technology, things will catch on pretty quickly and wireless will be the new norm.
What’s important to note is that while this new space can help smartphone manufacturers create some new experiences such as a bezel-less phone or improve existing ones like the battery life.
Can you expect the headphone jack to return? Most likely not, at least for now. In fact, you can expect more companies to follow this trend.