The Lightning Adapter and USB

  • December 17, 2013
  • Scott

Daring Fireball’s coverage of the new USB design:

USB cable developers have announced that a forthcoming version of the connector’s plug is to be reversible. It means users of the Universal Serial Bus cables will no longer have to worry which way round the part is facing when plugging it into a device.

The specification is due to be completed by mid-2014, and the first product on the market by 2016. It will neuter one of the advantages Apple’s proprietary lightning cable currently has over the USB system.

Like Gruber, my first thought was “2016!!” – that’s forever in technical terms.  As Gruber points out:

As far as I’ve been able to determine, the USB Promoter Group hasn’t released any photos or illustrations of this proposed new adapter, so who knows if it’s even designed yet. In the meantime, if the above timetable holds, iOS device users will have been using Lightning adapters for four years by the time this hits the market.

Four years.  This whole thing reminds me of pre-announcing in enterprise software, as happened with SAP and BPM, for example.  Years later, SAP’s BPM offering is still considered a glaring weakness in their portfolio.

More than that, I like how Gruber captures the difference between Apple fans and Apple critics on the exact same data.  Apple’s fans appreciate that Apple gives them access to better, more elegant technical solutions sooner.  Apple’s detractors consider compatibility with everyone else’s commodity products the more important design decision.

Apple doesn’t give a shit what everyone else is doing. To some, that’s what makes Apple great. To others, it’s what’s wrong with Apple. One side thinks, Why in the world should we have to wait until 2016 to have a smaller, reversible plug? The other side thinks, Why in the world would you want a proprietary, non-standard, expensive plug?

Such a good insight.  So which side are you on?



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