Tag Archives: 30-Pin Connector

Will the Plastic iPhone knock the iPhone 4S out of this year’s free iPhone pattern?

Credit: Ferry Passchier

Credit: Ferry Passchier

We’ve seen a pretty consistent pattern when a new iPhone is released: the previous model gets significantly cheaper, and the model before that tends to be widely available on free-with-contract deals. We’ve already seen the process beginning in anticipation of the 5S, with AT&T cutting the on-contract price of the iPhone 5 to $99 and 4S to $49, with Walmart going a little further with a $39 deal for the 4S.

But with the prospect of the long-awaited low-cost (or lower-cost!) iPhone being released at the same time as the 5S, might we expect to see the plastic iPhone being offered as the freebie in the iPhone 4S’s place … ? 

Tumbler blogger Sammy the Walrus thinks so:


We don’t yet know what the plastic iPhone will cost, but we’ve seen numbers ranging from an exceedingly unlikely $99 to a high-end estimate of $349-99 range. Even if it’s at the top end of that range, it’s going to be on par with the 4S. Any carrier subsidy that allows them to offer a free 4S would allow them to offer a free plastic iPhone instead.

Die 30-pin, die
From both Apple and the carrier perspectives, selling phones with the same Lightning connector makes it easier to phase out docks and accessories with the old 30-pin connectors, simplifying inventory and cutting costs significantly. If you sell a 4S as a current model, you can’t very well decide not to sell any accessories for it, but if it’s been demoted to an officially old phone, you no longer have to support it in the same way. I’m sure that Apple in particular would like to free up some of that very expensive shelf-space. The iPad 2 would be the only remaining 30-pin device (unless you count relics like the iPod classsic) and the low end iPad could easily see a Lightning update as well this year.

The danger for Apple, however, is the risk of cannibalising 5S sales. It would be betting that its core market – those willing to shell out the big bucks for an iPhone – will want the real-deal metal version enough to pay the premium, or will be sufficiently snobbish that they wouldn’t want to be seen with the ‘cheap’ iPhone. If it’s right, there would be limited impact on 5S sales, while it brings on board a demographic which has so far been unable to afford an iPhone.

But it would be a gamble. If enough existing iPhone customers decide they really like the funky colours of the plastic phone, and don’t care about the ‘snob appeal’ of owning the pricier version, the hit to Apple’s bottom-line could be substantial.

Which is why there’s also a possibility Apple could take a more cautious approach: offer the plastic phone only in developing markets like China and India. That’s the market Apple is really after with the plastic phone – the growth markets where iPhones are currently beyond the reach of the average consumer. If it offers the handset only in these markets, then the pattern in the US and Europe remains unchanged, and the 4S gets to enjoy a little more life.

For more information about AAPL Company, iOS Devices, and iPhone 4S continue reading at 9to5Mac.

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Apple relents, and an unplugged Kickstarter is back on

Days after a Kickstarter project was cancelled due to Apple’s rules regarding its Lightning adapter, the project is back on track. On Thursday of last week, the successfully funded effort for the POP charger was effectively shut down because Apple didn’t want its new charger to be integrated in any device that also used other types of chargers. In an email to project backers — I was one of the many — one of the project’s founders, Jamie Siminoff, shared the good news:

As you know on Thursday we sent you an update that because of Apple’s rules around Lightning we would be canceling POP. The story got A LOT of news and reactions, way more than we could have ever imagined. In fact it became such big news that 24 hours after we posted Apple changed their guidelines for Lightning.

It was an incredible turn of events for us. We never could have imagined that we would be able to change Apple’s rules.

Based on Apple’s change we can make POP the way we had promised and the project is back on. We will not be processing refunds and are going full speed ahead to produce and deliver the product to you ASAP.

POP was always meant for multiple devices and is designed with Apple’s 30-pin interface as well as micro-USB ports. Inside the POP is a large battery, which is used to recharge tablets and phones a number of times before the unit itself needs to be recharged. Several charging cables enable the POP to recharge several devices at once.

iPod touch Lightning portI never quite understood why Apple’s guidelines wouldn’t allow for its new Lightning adapter to be used in a device that also has other charging or data interfaces. It felt like a heavy-handed move without any physical or technical reasons behind it.

Regardless of whether this was a strategic business decision initially, or simply some type of administrative oversight, it’s good to see Apple change the guideline. Not only will the 1,000 POP backers be happy, but consumers for future products that use multiple charging or data interfaces will be as well.

xWallDock turns outlets into iPhone, iPad charging docks

xWallDock with iPhoneThe xWallDock, a new Kickstarter project, aims to remove cord clutter in homes filled with smartphones and tablets. The solution is elegantly simple: Simply replace the face plate from an existing electrical outlet with an xWallDock, which creates a combination device charger and dock for any wall in your home.

I find the design to be clever as it doesn’t rely on any new or unproven technologies for you to risk your money on. Instead, the plastic face plate adds the needed hardware parts to turn any standard electrical outlet found in the U.S., Canada or much of South America into a more useful charging station. This shouldn’t surprise, since Avi Cohen, the brains behind the xWallDock, is an industrial designer.

Cohen got the idea when it became apparent that his family of five was challenged by the various cables and cords to charge all of their mobile devices. With the xWallDock, Cohen has solved that problem with the addition of a useful dock function, saying:

“It could be mounted to the kitchen backsplash and used to listen to music and browse recipes, or it could be placed next to the headboard of the bed or in the living room, remaining in the same spot. There will be no long wires laying around on the floor, no wires stretched from the outlet to the dresser and no mess.”

Take a peek at the introductory video and you’ll see how this product could be useful. I know in my house there are plenty of spots I could use one of these; next to my bed, in the kitchen and even in the family room where our uncharged devices tend to collect in a pack.

Cohen is starting off with support for Apple’s 30-pin iOS port, and of course, newer iOS devices will use Apple’s Lightning port. That means an Apple adapter would be needed during the first run of docks, but Cohen is planning two additional production runs: one for the new Lightning dock and one for micro-USB devices such as phones or tablets that run Android or Windows Phone.

If the xWallDock hits the $27,000 goal that Cohen has set, the first orders are expected to be fulfilled in February 2013. At this early point in the project, it has only raised about 10 percent of the goal, so there’s plenty of early bird opportunity. A face plate with two outlet cutouts starts at $15 and all of the dock products include a USB charger and short USB cable for device charging.

xWallDock in a kitchen

Design, money, control: why Apple went with Lightning over micro USB

The new iPhone 5 brings a bunch of welcome hardware changes: who doesn’t want a faster processor, 4G radios, better camera, and so on? But there is a change that may cause a bit of a headache for users: Apple’s decision, after nine years, to move on from the wide, rectangular 30-pin connector it’s been using in all of its mobile devices. The new, smaller more elegant-looking Lightning dock connector has been something of a lightning rod for confusion and criticism for Apple in the days since the announcement. So I chatted with Kyle Wiens, who runs the electronic hardware-obsessed repair guide service iFixit, to find out more about the technical benefits of the new connector and why Apple made the change.

Apple’s selling points for the new connector: Lightning is 80 percent smaller than the old connector, and it’s reversible, so it doesn’t matter which way you put the plug in, unlike the old solution. The size issue is indeed the primary consideration, said Wiens in a phone call on Friday. But it’s not just about making room for more components into the new iPhone: there’s the future of its full mobile lineup Apple has to think about.

“Apple was running into limitations” with the current 30-pin dock, he said. “You can see with the iPod nano, the dock connector was the limiting factor” in Apple’s ability to shrink down the size of the company’s tiniest music player.

That makes sense, and we know there’s precedent for these particular kind of design considerations at Apple: see the decision to ditch the Ethernet port on the MacBook Air back in 2008.

But the change wasn’t only about design. It’s about bringing the entire mobile and Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad ecosystem (a program in which Apple certifies manufacturers’ hardware to work with its iDevice lineup) up to date, Wiens theorizes. “Thirty pins is a lot for a computer connector,” he said. Apple used that many because it was easier for accessory makers to be compatible and do more things with the iPod, and then eventually iPhone and iPad. (Here’s a handy chart explaining what each of the 30 pins is used for.)

“The new connector is moving from a combination of anolog plus digital to pure digital. They’re saying, ‘Hey, if you have an accessory, like a car stereo, you have to talk over USB or a digital interface,” said Wiens. “They’re forcing accessories to be a bit more sophisticated.” Luckily, he added, that’s not really a challenge for most accessory makers any more the way it would have been nine years ago.

But if size is such an important concern, why did Apple come up with its own Lightning connector instead of using something small that almost everybody already has lying around, like micro-USB, which is already a standard in Europe? It’s very likely about money and control.

Though he admits it’s a “cynical view,” Wiens says a main benefit of going with a new connector like Lightning is Apple’s ability to charge “big bucks” to license the use of it to accessory and peripheral makers. He estimates through his talks with peripheral makers that Apple charges from $1 to $2 per device to make stuff compatible with the iPod, iPhone or iPad.

Apple, a famously controlling company, has a very clear view of future product roadmaps, and that includes what kind of connectors it does or does not want hooking up to its devices. The licensing model allows that.

We won’t know the true performance benefits of Lightning (is it really faster, as Apple says?) until the iPhone and new iPods start shipping and users get the chance to test them out. But we do know that thanks to the change, there’s a potentially large pile of e-waste headed for landfills over the next couple of years as hotel alarm clocks, old battery cases and cables will eventually be swapped out as Apple’s new wave of Lightning-capable devices grows in size.

Still, “they kept connector for nine years,” Wiens said. “Good on them for keeping it as long as they did.”

Will Apple dump the iPhone’s aging 30-pin connector?

Apple iPhone 4S 30-pin dock connectorFor a company as forward-thinking as Apple has been in the mobile world, it still depends on a relic of its pre-iOS days as the primary connection for charging iPhones and iPads. But now that Apple can update its iOS devices over wireless networks, the 30-pin connector may have run its course.

iMore.com reported Friday that Apple will likely get rid of the 30-pin connector in the next version of the iPhone in favor of something smaller that could help it accommodate 4G LTE radios, and it’s about time. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t think Apple will follow the lead of the rest of the smartphone market and embrace the micro USB standard for phone chargers, but it’s still a notable development.

The 30-pin dock connector has been the primary doorway into the iPod for years. It was the only way to install software updates on an iPhone or iPad until iOS 5 introduced over-the-air updates, and an easy target for those who believed Apple wasn’t living up to its “post-PC” words by requiring a physical connection to a computer for such an important task.

Eliminating the (relatively) bulky connector could make it easier for Apple to include 4G wireless connections in the next iPhone without having to make an iPhone as big as some of the Android models (like the Galaxy Nexus) that connect to 4G networks. It also means a legion of accessory makers will have to get on board with a new standard on which Apple will probably continue to charge royalties to use in their products. The success of an iPhone accessory maker like Square that bypassed the 30-pin connector altogether with its credit-card reader may have also prompted Apple to come up with a new connector that offers unique advantages.

But to take things a step further, is Apple also willing to embrace wireless charging with the next iPhone, along the lines of what Palm introduced for certain models of the Pre? That might force the company to make some tough decisions about the materials it uses in the iPhone, a notoriously sensitive subject. But wireless charging is a great idea for users, and it would also allow Apple to sell some sleek wireless charging stations at a tidy profit.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Apple Looking To Ditch Traditional 30-Pin Connector [Rumor]

When the first iPod prototype was handed to Steve Jobs he told the engineers it was too big. To prove his point, he calmly walked over to a fish tank, dropped the iPod into the water and pointed at the air bubbles escaping from the iPod’s casing before erupting in a shout of, “Look at these goddamn air bubbles in my beautiful device! That means there’s extra space, you worthless sons of bitches!” (that’s not the actual quote but I imagine it being something like that).

Physical space is one of the most valuable commodities inside Apple products. With each new iteration, Apple finds a way to squeeze in more components and slim the profile of their gadgets, and if recent rumors are to be believed, the traditional 30-Pin Connector may soon disappear from the iPhone, iPod, and iPad.

A recent rumor published by iMore claims that Apple is looking to ditch the 30-Pin connector in order to save space and make room for better features. Unwilling to make their handsets as monstrous as the Galaxy Nexus, Apple needs to converse space to make room for 4G LTE chips without sacrificing on battery life. The 30-Pin connector doesn’t take up a huge amount of room, but every square millimeter counts, and switching to something like a micro-USB port or a new proprietary port that is minuscule in comparison to the 30-Pin connector will allow Apple to add new features without increasing the size of the iPhone.

When you look at the history of the iPhone, the move away from the 30-Pin connector makes sense. Apple moved the iPhone’s antenna to the exterior of the device with the iPhone 4 to improve battery life. They also started using the mini SIM card with the original iPad even though those were uncommon at the time. Even though the 30-Pin connector is proprietary, Apple’s never been afraid to kill of their own inventions in favor of new technology (FireWire, Floppy Drives, the Mouse, etc).

iMore makes the argument that the wired connection ports of future iOS devices won’t play an integral role in the experience of the devices, so slimming it down won’t result in a worse user experience.

Backups are easier and better over iCloud. Wi-Fi sync can handle even large media files, if not as quickly, still relatively painlessly given their average frequency. Video and screen mirroring just beam straight to the Apple TV. Accessories can connect and interact over the air. The iTunes app tether has been appreciably cut, so the timing to cut down on the dock connector might never be better.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the 30-Pin connector and what Apple will replace it with. Leaked photos of iPad 3 components haven’t revealed any changes, so we might not see anything until the iPhone 5, or later. Thunderbolt won’t work on iOS devices because they don’t use PCI Express architecture, and micro-USB probably isn’t a good fit for Apple either.

What do you think Apple will possibly use to replace the 30-Pin connector? Micro-Thunderbolt? A new proprietary port? Micro-USB? Will they just ditch wires altogether and add inductive charging? Tell us in the comments below.


[via iMore]

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