Why Apple Was Right to Get Rid of the Headphone Jack

The iPhone maker has courted controversy by ditching the headphone jack in its new phone, but it was the right move.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is eliminating the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack in its latest iPhone models, the iPhone 7 line.

According to some, this is a travesty unparalleled in the history of technology. Rumors had already circulated that Apple was ditching the 50-year-old headphone port, but a heavy backlash nonetheless ensued, following Apple’s confirmation during the phone-release event. Apple was roundly reamed across the media:

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 2.40.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 2.38.23 PM

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 2.38.33 PM

The kerfuffle boils down to one key issue: convenience. Every iPhone owner already has a pair of 3.5 mm earbuds, and almost the entire universe of existing audio components is compatible with the standard jack. Importantly, Apple will provide a free adapter that attaches through the Lightning charging port and essentially solves the compatibility issue, though in a less convenient way.

It would have been easy to stick with the traditional audio port after all, but that’s not how innovation works.

Apple is a tech company

Every year, Apple introduces the latest version of its flagship product, the iPhone. There’s no reason to release a new one without any changes or improvements. Consumers who are happy with their current phone can just keep that one, or if they wish to upgrade, can move up to an iPhone 6 or 6s, which have the standard jack.

But Apple has to keep innovating if it expects to stay ahead of the competition and sell new products. That’s how the tech industry works, and it’s how Apple got to the top in the first place. The company repeatedly calls out the words “best” and “innovative” in its own press materials.

Apple has long been guided by the Steve Jobs mantra that consumers don’t know what they want until they see it, and innovation often requires making popular features and technologies obsolete. The company has done it before by, for instance, upgrading from the original 30-pin connector to the Lightning connector, and it will do it again.

Apple is leading consumers into a wireless future; it’s doing that because it has to. Paying $160 for AirPods may not sound appealing today, but wireless headphones are the future. And that’s a blessing for anyone who’s ever taken an iPhone for a run, or wasted minutes untangling a mess of earbuds shoved in their pockets.

Losing the headphone jack is a trade-off

Apple didn’t simply eliminate the jack out of “courage,” as executive Phil Schiller said during the presentation; there are real benefits to doing so. Taking it out allows the phone to be water-resistant. That’s no small detail; one repair center said water is the most common cause of broken iPhones, and aside from impact damage (like from dropping it on a hard surface), liquid is the only real way a consumer can break one. Water resistance is an improvement that’s long overdue, and consumers have been asking for it for years.

The headphone jack also takes up valuable space inside the iPhone, competing with camera technologies, processors, and battery life, as Apple exec Dan Riccio told BuzzfeedIn order to make the phone better, which it needs to do to justify releasing a new one, Apple had to jettison an antiquated technology that was taking up space. Because Apple removed the jack, battery life — another major source of customer complaints — is now 14% longer in the iPhone 7; the camera is much more powerful, and the speakers are better.

You can argue that those improvements aren’t worth losing the headphone jack, but they are significant.

Apple isn’t even ahead of the curve here

Finally, it’s worth noting that Apple isn’t even the first phone maker to remove the headphone jack. Motorola’s recent Moto Z comes without a jack, and Chinese phone maker OPPO Electronics had a jack-less phone on the market as early as four years ago. Apple’s decision should, however, hasten the shift away from the standard audio jack.

The iPhone maker has ditched key ports on other products before, like the 5″ floppy drive and the CD-ROM in Macs; the customer protests eventually subside, and everyone moves along. This should be no different.

It’s a credit to Apple’s brand that its customers feel so connected that they’re willing to go to great lengths to protest this kind of move, in ways that probably no one would for an Android phone. But it’s worth remembering: That passion means the protesters are likely the company’s most loyal customers, and will eventually buy other Apple products when the time is right.

Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

You May Also Like
An Unknown Side of Cancun: Enjoy a Luxurious Stay at the JW Marriott Resort and Spa and Bring Your Taste for Adventure

Treat yourself to luxury, relaxation and unforgettable experiences at this fantastic resort.

Read More
Steiger Facial Plastic Surgery Offers Pamper Mom Facial Special

The offering is available through May 31.

Read More
NAIOP South Florida Appoints Officers, Executive Board and Board of Directors for 2022

NAIOP South Florida, a Commercial Real Estate Development Association offering advocacy, education and business opportunities to its members, has announced the following officers for the 2022 Board of Directors: President:

Read More
Pride Week Festival Begins With Tribute to Pulse Nightclub Survivor

Miami Beach Pride’s week-long festivities will commence with a special tribute to the LGBTQ+ community honoring the victims of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. A ceremonial “flip

Read More
Other Posts
Surfside luxury condo sees notable sales

Arte at Surfside is making waves. There’s, of course, the news that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are renting at the 16-resident luxury condominium. And there’s the December penthouse sale

Read More
Up in the Air: A Discussion

In a dynamic region where residents are typically on the move, everyone is wondering about the health of the airline industry and the safety of airports and airplanes. Everyone is

Read More
South Florida Yachting Legend Passes

Robert “Bob” Roscioli, an icon in the South Florida marine industry, has passed away. Many recognize the name Roscioli from the widely-successful and world-renowned Roscioli Yachting Center, a full service

Read More
Four key steps

[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text] What a crazy time we are all experiencing. Right now, getting back to basics is most important. It is not and

Read More

Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.