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Apple to Make Your Docking Accessories Obsolete

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Back in May 2011, word came down that Apple (AAPL) would be finally joining the likes of Android (GOOG) and BlackBerry (RIMM) and offer over-the-air updates in iOS 5, thus negating the antiquated need to tether one's iPhone to their computer with a USB cable to upgrade their software. Much to our pleasure, Apple drove another nail into the cable's coffin with iCloud, allowing users to wirelessly stream and access files from one device to another, without the need of a cord. And then came a rumor from the Wall Street Journal that said Apple was developing "a new way of charging the phone." Although expectations naturally migrated to a wireless charging similar to HP's (HPQ) TouchPad station, anyone holding an iPhone 4S in their hand knows it still requires that damn proprietary cable to recharge the battery.

While it's fantastic Apple -- along with Google, RIM, and Microsoft (MSFT) -- are making headway in OTA updates, wireless syncing, and cloud technology, freeing us from cord inundation, we still need those blasted things to charge our devices. And unfortunately, with its proprietary dock connector standard, Apple is the odd man out -- a powerful one, at that -- from establishing a unified USB standard. Micro USB works with Motorola (MMI), Nokia (NOK), HTC, Samsung, HP, RIM, LG, almost every type of mobile device except those coming out of Cupertino -- which is sticking with its 30-pin dock connector.

Or is it?

Apple blog iMore reported that Apple may be ditching the 30-pin dock connector in its next generation of mobile devices in favor of... another standard incompatible to competitors. The chief reason, iMore explained, is to clear some room that the old dock connector took up inside the devices -- presumably to free up some space for larger batteries. (More validity for 4G networking, perhaps?)

iMore claimed Apple won't be choosing the ubiquitous Micro USB standard because it's too slow, even though USB 3.0 achieves data transfers up to 5Gbps -- far quicker than Apple's internal flash memory can process. And Apple's Thunderbolt -- which boasts speeds of 700MBps -- can't be implemented because iPhones and iPads don't operate the PCI Express architecture necessary to run that standard.

But if data transfers and syncing are being shifted to the cloud, then speed shouldn't be the issue. Space is one thing, and there's something to do be said for improving upon design, but if most manufacturers can make do with Micro USB, what's the problem with going 3.0?

So everyone is left with a new, incompatible dock connector. That means your current cables, your iPhone speakers, your charging stations, your car head units, anything that uses the current 30-pin connector will be obsolete, unless Apple also releases an adapter to connect to the new standard. But depending on the form factor of the cable-plus-adapter, it may not be feasible to fit the entire unit into the docks or spaces where your old devices used to go. iPhones will sit halfway in speaker stations, or dangle halfway out of car consoles -- not at all reflective of the notoriously clean and smooth Apple design.

However, aside from dangling iPhones, it's unfortunate that Apple can't play nice with others and cut down on the accessory and cable clutter that fills everyone's junk drawer. Along with the Mini USB cables, old laptop AC adapters, and other abandoned standards, we'll soon have all the accessories that used to work with current Apple devices tangled inside.

Anyone with a FireWire iPod cord gathering dust, raise your hand.

But such is the case of technological advancements. If we still held onto older standards, we'd be connecting Iomega Zip drives to our 2012 clamshell iBooks with SCSI cables.

And Apple probably wouldn't have nearly $100 billion in spare cash.


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