IN its highly-anticipated press event on September 7th, Apple announced what many feared would happen: the headphone jack is getting killed off.
The jack, which has stood its ground for 140 years despite changing tech trends and the smartphone revolution, will not be making it to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and will be replaced with wireless earbuds. Apple’s new headphones, called ‘AirPods’ will cost a hefty US$160.
As you can imagine, the Internet has been abuzz with negative and incredulous responses but Apple’s decision should not have come as a big surprise. Back in January, Forbes ‘confirmed’ via iPhone 7 leaks that Apple was planning on doing away with the headphone jack which sparked an online petition that won over 300,000 signatures.
In justification for the jack’s removal, the Cupertino giant’s marketing chief Phil Schiller defended Apple’s decision onstage at the press event: “It makes no sense to tether ourselves with cables to our mobile devices,” he said and noted that it came down to one word: ‘Courage’.
To put it into context, Schiller said: “The reason to move on: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us.”
Schiller’s response was subsequently ridiculed across a number of media platforms including TechCrunch (which dedicated an entire post on the word ‘courage’).
Besides Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel none-too-gently saying his peace that “taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid”, a number of tech journalists pointed out that perhaps it wasn’t courage that had motivated the decision to kill the jack, but simply a dash towards a money-making opportunity.
TechCrunch writer Haje Jan Kamps noted that despite its courage, Apple still “hedged its bets” by including a dongle (aka headphone adaptor) with every iPhone 7 so users who didn’t own the new wireless headphones could still get plugged in. It would seem that, by including the dongle, Apple couldn’t truly get behind its decision.
Besides widespread razing by the media, members of the global tech community have also responded with biting humor to Apple’s jack removal. One of the most notable is parody site ‘Apple Plugs’, which is appropriately taglined: “Just trust us. It’s better.”
In the Twitterverse, users posted photos of themselves with inanimate objects that resembled Apple’s new headphones – which include a detached electric toothbrush and a bent cigarette.
LOL the new Apple ear-pods look great! pic.twitter.com/CaxGrV9Tba
— Champ (@ChampChong) September 8, 2016
Apple wants you to pay US$169 bucks so you can look like you have a limp cigarette coming out of your ear smh pic.twitter.com/UgK2rsympF
— ben (@bencsin) September 8, 2016
Despite all the criticism and poking fun, some believe that Apple’s AirPods are just the start of a wireless future which is plugged into a so-called “hearables” market which Reuters reports will reach US$16 billion within five years.
In Apple chief designer’s words: “We’re just at the beginning of a truly wireless future we’ve been working towards for many years.”