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7/23/2012
09:30 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache

A smaller dock connector means the iPhone 5 will be incompatible with accessories made for Apple products going back nearly 10 years.

The iPhone 1.0 Anniversary Quiz
The iPhone 1.0 Anniversary Quiz
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Apple is prepared to ditch the 30-pin connector it has used since the early days of its iPod media player. The iPhone 5 will instead ship with a smaller dock connector containing 19 pins. The design change, long rumored for the new iPhone, means that the iPhone 5 will be incompatible with the bulk of existing iPhone accessories.

Why the change? According to sources cited by Reuters, the dock switcheroo is meant "to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom."

Supposed photos of the iPhone 5 have been floating around the Internet for months, and most of them show a smaller docking port on the bottom, with the headphone jack positioned next to it. The headphone jack has always been on the top of iPhones. According to pictures, the new dock design looks similar in size to the microUSB port.

[ Read about new screen technology Apple will use on the iPhone 5. See iPhone 5 Display To Use In-Cell Tech. ]

Back in 2001, the original iPod used FireWire to connect to computers for fast data transfers. Apple later switched to USB 2.0, and eventually to the 30-pin design it uses today. All iPhones, iPods, and iPads sold in the last five years have used this 30-pin design, which is about 22mm long but very narrow.

It's certainly understandable that Apple would want to move to a smaller dock design. Doing so would save precious space inside the next iPhone, which could be used to increase the size of the battery or to add other components, such as LTE 4G radios. It already looks like Apple plans to use in-cell technology in the display in order to save internal space.

Since Apple has decided to make a change, however, it's puzzling why it would move to another proprietary design instead of using the industry standard microUSB. MicroUSB has become the accepted port for every other cell phone maker on the planet. It would be far better for consumers if Apple went with a standard port rather than its own.

iPhone accessory makers are likely to see a windfall in revenue later this year when the iPhone 5 arrives, even though many consumers will be frustrated at the same time. The change in dock means users will have to purchase adapters so their existing gear will work with the new iPhone, or purchase new accessories altogether. Either way, third-party accessory makers win and consumers lose.

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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2012 | 8:59:16 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
As I tend to recall, wasn't there some sort of ruling in the EU that required all cell phone hardware manufacturers to adopt the MicroUSB standard for power connectivity or pay a requisite fine?

The move, most certainly, has something to do with Apple throwing a bone to those who pay for Apple's seal of approval on their device to show consumers that their device really will work with their iDevice. Why should third-parties continue to keep creating new devices when there's no necessary business case driving them?

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2012 | 12:11:39 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Apple fanbois have no problem with wasting hundreds of Dollars each year on the latest gadget from Apple. So buying all new accessories is just something extra they have to pay for to keep their bragging rights. Apple sells to an audience that apparently has massive amounts of unused cash willing to spend it on toys like iPhones.
Look at it differently, drastically changing things and requiring to buy more stuff will only be good for the economy. At least the states will collect more sales tax this way.
Eric Z
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Eric Z,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 7:30:32 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Perry / Tom - I fully expect third-party companies to make a mint by selling adapters. Apple will surely make its own, as will a dozen other companies. Any way you look at it, that's dollars out of my pocket and into some one else's.

Eric.Zeman@gmail.com | +1(973) 970-5664 | @phonescooper | GTalk: eric.zeman | Google Voice: (646) 389-3626
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 7:25:12 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Hi Perrey,

An excellent point, and probably true. Nevertheless, while it's Apple's right to make changes to their devices, it seems like they could have taken the opportunity to go with Micro USB (as Eric mentioned above). Instead now we've got people thinking that Apple's making this change so they can squeeze a little extra out of the consumer's pocket.

Best,
Tom LaSusa
InformationWeek
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Moderator
7/23/2012 | 6:51:00 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
it's puzzling why it would move to another proprietary design

Because Apple is and always has been about proprietary! Other companies try this and they get vilified; Apple does it and the folks just pay up.
Perrey
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Perrey,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 6:16:35 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Did you ever hear of an adapter? Probably many manufacturers, and perhaps even Apple, will make one.
Perrey
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Perrey,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 6:14:41 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Did you ever of an adapter?
Armour
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Armour,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 6:00:06 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
I see the hassle and the costs and I'm not liking it. But there is a secondary reason not to use USB as it is used as an interface other then data, Video, sound, ect are all been feed from the port. I use HDMI, and component cables when travelling to play media on projectors and TV sets.
ldehaan941
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ldehaan941,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 5:30:15 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Heck, it was always a quiescent revenue stream, ready to be invoked whenever necessary.
John doe
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John doe,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/23/2012 | 4:19:09 PM
re: iPhone 5 Dock Smaller: Accessory Headache
Fragmentation, LOL.
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