In all the iPhone 5 hubbub this week, the sharpest critiques of Apple have come regarding Lightning. Users, the media and accessory manufacturers are up in arms that Apple would dare to change the standard connector that they pioneered with the first iPod way back in 2001. Very few people seem to realize that this is almost definitely a good thing for everyone in the ecosystem. Perhaps not tomorrow but definitely by next year.
Why is the annoyance you’ll have to put up with for all your legacy chargers, accessories and docks worth it in the end? A few reasons:
1. AirPlay is much much better anyway. If you have a Sonos, a Jambox or Bluetooth-enabled sound system in your car, you’ll know this to be the case already. There is no need to plug your device in, no need to have it locked to your accessory and you can enjoy the freedom to multitask while being device-connected. Quite simply, it’s a better technology and thanks to Apple’s market power and the introduction of Lightning, accessory manufacturers will have to embrace AirPlay/BlueTooth significantly faster than they would have otherwise. I am fairly confident that within 18 months the *only* time you’ll actually plug your iPhone into anything will be to charge it up. This is a good thing.
2. A decade is quite a long time for a single hardware standard. But because this particularly standard was attached to the most successful consumer electronic device ever (and spawned a huge economy predicated on it), people are pissed. But the new standard is smaller, lighter and supposedly better. Despite the headache, that should probably be reason enough to warrant a change on its own.
3. It works upside down. This insight is so obvious and dumb that of course Apple is the one who executed on it and brought it to market. Every connector should work rightside up or upside down, right? I am sure (or at least hope) that there are technical reasons this can’t be the case for USB and mini-USB, otherwise it would have been done already.
The Apple fanboy in all of us respects the company because they are the most innovative in the world and they never ever give in to inertia. To criticize them for the same base reason we also love them is hypocritical.