Courage and comparing Apples to oranges

Much has been said about the removal of the headphone jack in the new iPhone 7/Plus, and John Gruber has added is own commentary:

Choosing to do what you *know* will be unpopular in the short run but you *believe* will prove correct in the long run takes courage.

The problem with Gruber argument is that the comparison, as it almost always happens, is unfair. This is not -even in hindsight- comparable to the decision to not support Flash technology on iOS. Gruber later admits that it’s certainly not the same:

Flash/HTML5 was bad/good. Analog jack/AirPods is meh/good.

I don’t really feel analog jack is meh: it depends on the headphones you get, and if you want better sound you can just buy a phone with a better DAC or an external DAC. But there are other considerations here. The first one, wireless headphones are just an option (and to this day, not better than the wired ones), but he implies they’re the future because cables are inconvenient:

More people would have a worse experience on a daily basis, dealing with tangled cords and all the other hassles of having your ears tethered to a device.

Millions of people don’t seem to have a problem with tangled cords, but even inf we concede this, there’s the question of using a proprietary connector that only Apple has control over. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has argued against that kind of option, and mentions that, for example, “manufacturers must apply and pay a licensing fee to create a Lightning-compatible device“, but even if this and the DRM problems aren’t really that important-Schiller calls them a ‘pure conspiracy theory‘-, the truth is there are questions that should worry the general public:

But therein lies the problem: you shouldn’t have to depend on a manufacturer’s permission to use its hardware however you like (or, for that matter, to build your own peripherals and accessories for it). What you can do with your hardware should be determined by the limits of the technology itself, not its manufacturers’ policy decisions.

Apple hasn’t made this decision based on courage. They’ve made this decision based on money. Period.


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