Tuesday, at Apple's September special event, CEO, Tim Cook and crew revealed iPhone 7. Among it's biggest new technologies was the omission of a legacy feature – Apple has done away with the industry standard 3.5mm audio jack, and for a slew of good reasons. But none more impactful than the fact that Android makers are now torn in what to do with a standard Apple just ditched.
Apple VP of World Wide Marketing, Phil Schiller, pointed out new digital advantages for moving past the the analog standard. Yes, the move brings wireless headphone technologies towards becoming the new standard. Yes, it saves space within iPhone. Yes, the removal of the jack eliminates another area for water and dust ingression. The shift to using iPhone's Lightning connector for headphones certainly ushers in the digital age for Apple's headphones, but the initial pain it brings to the competition is greater than the benefits within iPhone 7 in and of itself.
iPhone 7 marks the fifth generation of iPhones using Lightning connectors. As a result, well over half a billion iPhones world wide are immediately ready for Apple's new audio standard. Yet Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and others are left with a big problem that won't be easily – or soon – solved.
The problem for Android smartphone's 3.5mm audio jack is simply more of the same. Fragmentation.
Does Samsung keeps it's low-end smartphones running with the legacy audio format, while moving it's high-end Galaxy phones to a digital solution? And if so, what technology does Samsung standardize on? USB? USB-C, Mini-USB, or some new proprietary port? What does LG do? What does every Android hardware vendor do and what does Google push to support?
Apple's elimination of the analog audio jack moves Apple instantly into today's technologies, while putting Android's handset makers in yet another hole. One that won't be so easy to dig out of any time soon.
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