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Apple absent from universal phone charger push

post #1 of 116
Thread Starter 
Although AT&T and several other iPhone partners joined an industry initiative to standardize mobile phone chargers over the next few years, Apple has yet to follow suit and may remain committed to its proprietary dock-connector interface .

The GSMA and 17 mobile operators plan to develop a universal charging solution that would appear by January 1, 2012. Micro-USB will be the common charging interface.

The group includes AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. According to the GSMA, which represents the interests of GSM operators, the change would make things simpler for the consumer, who could use the same charger with all future phones and charge anywhere with any available unit.

The chargers will boast a 4-star or higher efficiency rating in order to be three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger and consume 50% less stand-by energy. The GSMA estimates greenhouse gas reduction by 13.6 to 21.8 million metric tons as the replacement rate for existing chargers decreases.

Noticeably absent from the list of supporters is Apple. Its ubiquitous dock connector was introduced on the third-generation iPod in 2003 and has appeared on every iPod and iPhone since. By the time of the 2012 deadline, the dock connector will have been around for almost a decade.

In a possible nod to the iPhone's exemption, the GSMA targets only "majority" adoption by 2012. The BBC notes that the move may be a response to pressure from the European Commission, which has observed more than 30 different kinds of chargers in use across the European Union.
post #2 of 116
The USB port as is or the mini is a universal plug, Several products from flashlights, to cell phones use the USB port to charge up. The computer is ubiquitous, and is the place from which charging can come from. If not the computer there are plenty of USB charges out there. All we need from manufactures is an adapter that fits on the end of the USB cord as a transitional device. By next year we could all eliminate most of the wall rat energy drains.
It is the those wall rats, or transformers that are the problem, not the cord or the connection. Transforming the connectors with adapters the way we use to use adapters to change from serial to USB. There are plenty of third party manufacturers that could and will do this if given the opportunity.
Since Apple products use USB to charge anyway, Apple is ahead of the game. Leading by domination.
post #3 of 116
This is welcome news. It's good to see the entire industry work together to achieve a common goal.
post #4 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

This is welcome news. It's good to see the entire industry work together to achieve a common goal.

I dunno, better this than not this, but it seems to me like it's way overdue. That the industry is only able to get together on standards, when under pressure from outside sources, and just as the technology is going obsolete anyway does not speak *that* well for the industry IMO.

The way the article talks about energy savings is a bit weird also. Changing the type of plug to mini USB shouldn't have any effect on energy savings. It almost sounds like what they are really doing is changing the "brick" part to a smaller, more energy efficient USB connected thing, (like Apple has been doing for years and years). At least that's the only way I could see any energy savings, but I am hardly an expert in such matters.
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post #5 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowhide View Post

Since Apple products use USB to charge anyway, Apple is ahead of the game. Leading by domination.

The point would be that any charger could plug into any phone AT THE PHONE END. It doesn't really matter if it's USB or a wall adapter, it's whether you can connect it to any model phone.
Apple will resist this as much as possible. They LOVE their proprietary connections (display ports, ac adapters, iPod/iPhone connectors) it's a great way to nickle and dime their customers.
Want to connect to HDMI? You'll need an Apple brand converter. Oh, you lost or broke your power cord? $79 please.
post #6 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I dunno, better this than not this, but it seems to me like it's way overdue. That the industry is only able to get together on standards, when under pressure from outside sources, and just as the technology is going obsolete anyway does not speak *that* well for the industry IMO.

The way the article talks about energy savings is a bit weird also. Changing the type of plug to mini USB shouldn't have any effect on energy savings. It almost sounds like what they are really doing is changing the "brick" part to a smaller, more energy efficient USB connected thing, (like Apple has been doing for years and years). At least that's the only way I could see any energy savings, but I am hardly an expert in such matters.

Apologies to cowhide & Virgil if I'm wrong, but isn't the idea that the mini-USB will be the connection to the phone, not the power source? I wish Apple would do something like this, for when you are in need of power in a pinch, like the airport.
post #7 of 116
"It's ubiquitous dock connector" The possessive "Its" does not have an apostrophe. Sorry, a pet peeve of mine. Move along...
post #8 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

The point would be that any charger could plug into any phone AT THE PHONE END. It doesn't really matter if it's USB or a wall adapter, it's whether you can connect it to any model phone.
Apple will resist this as much as possible. They LOVE their proprietary connections (display ports, ac adapters, iPod/iPhone connectors) it's a great way to nickle and dime their customers.
Want to connect to HDMI? You'll need an Apple brand converter. Oh, you lost or broke your power cord? $79 please.

I'll take the benefits of Apple's ac adapter for laptops over the standard any day. Plus - what other adapter can you just go to the store and get a replacement for? With most laptops you'd have to order one.

That said - I agree Apple could do better in some areas. I never fully understood why their red-white-yellow ipod - RCA connectors had to be different.

I can see why they wanted the dock connector: for docking. And charging a royalty for access to the port. Could they have docked with mini-usb? Probably. But now it'll be ugly to go back.
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post #9 of 116
As long as everyone settles on a common voltage, the main hurdle will be crossed. If it's USB, then iPhones are still in the game with a simple adapter. Not ideal, but as pointed out, Apple's proprietary dock connector is becoming pretty damn ubiquitous.

Someone needs to slap Sony upside the head; no two products of theirs seems to share the same power adapter, or even voltage. I wonder what their CEO's home looks like in terms of power strips stashed under couches or behind furniture, all loaded with a menagerie of Sony wall-warts...
post #10 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

I wish Apple would do something like this, for when you are in need of power in a pinch, like the airport.

Why? The iPhone's is easily the smallest and most convenient AC charger available in the industry. The body of it is roughly a 1" cube and it's universal 100-240V. If you can't manage to fit one of these in your pocket/purse/briefcase/underwear you're in bigger trouble than any industry standard is going to help with.

An advantage of Apple's proprietary connector is that it's self-aligning, which isn't the case with any size of USB connector, making them fiddly to insert and unsuitable for a dock.
post #11 of 116
It's funny to see Motorola there. They were usually the worst offenders, even with micro-usb if you plugged a non-Motorola charger into the plug it would complain with a message and not charge, yet the Motorola charger would work in the other phone. Both were same voltage and amperage.
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post #12 of 116
okay, so why does Apple have to do what every other company is doing?? I hate when websites post crap like this. Yes its good that multiple cell companies are working together to develop a same charger, but why does Apple have to conform to this just because others are doing it?

Apple, from the start, has used the the 30pin dock charger. Thats what they decided to use on their iPods (except the shuffle) and thats what they are using on their iPhones. Apple thinks different.

**NEWS FLASH** do you want to know why Apple has not come out with copy and paste or flash? Apple wants to see how other companies use this technology. When they see that others failed at it, they strive to learn from others mistakes and make it 10X better. Thats simple logic.

The touchstone from Palm is awesome. They should stick with it. Just because Palm and Aplpe are in the cellphone market doesnt mean they have to do the same thing every other comapny is doing
post #13 of 116
European Union is expected to make compatibility with a standard charger mandatory in few years. This makes perfect sense for customers, makers and the environment. This is also notably something a free market could never achieve.
post #14 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

Why? The iPhone's is easily the smallest and most convenient AC charger available in the industry. The body of it is roughly a 1" cube and it's universal 100-240V. If you can't manage to fit one of these in your pocket/purse/briefcase/underwear you're in bigger trouble than any industry standard is going to help with.

An advantage of Apple's proprietary connector is that it's self-aligning, which isn't the case with any size of USB connector, making them fiddly to insert and unsuitable for a dock.

I wasn't suggesting that Apple makes an inferior product. But if you need to borrow a charger, you are often SOL, unlike PC users who can swap cords the live long day. And they can walk into a lot more stores to buy a replacement. This is becoming less of a problem as Apple has gained so much market share, but tell that to the G4 Powerbook owner who's lost or broken his charger.
post #15 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowhide View Post

The USB port as is or the mini is a universal plug, Several products from flashlights, to cell phones use the USB port to charge up. The computer is ubiquitous, and is the place from which charging can come from. If not the computer there are plenty of USB charges out there. All we need from manufactures is an adapter that fits on the end of the USB cord as a transitional device. By next year we could all eliminate most of the wall rat energy drains.
It is the those wall rats, or transformers that are the problem, not the cord or the connection. Transforming the connectors with adapters the way we use to use adapters to change from serial to USB. There are plenty of third party manufacturers that could and will do this if given the opportunity.
Since Apple products use USB to charge anyway, Apple is ahead of the game. Leading by domination.

Unfortunately, it's not just the shape of the plug. My Moto phone has miniUSB but refuses to charge unless it's a Moto brand charger or cable. There's no excuse for not letting me use the USB port on my computer or off a powered hub. I charge my iPods off the USB port on my Airport Express and my monitors USB ports all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

Apologies to cowhide & Virgil if I'm wrong, but isn't the idea that the mini-USB will be the connection to the phone, not the power source? I wish Apple would do something like this, for when you are in need of power in a pinch, like the airport.

You could throw this in your bag. It's a small adaptor that will let you use any regular USB or Firewire cable to charge your iPod. I assume it would also work fine with an iPhone. $5

Quote:
Originally Posted by walshbj View Post

I can see why they wanted the dock connector: for docking. And charging a royalty for access to the port. Could they have docked with mini-usb? Probably. But now it'll be ugly to go back.

Except then you'd also need a 2nd port on the iPod/iPhone because the dock connector does more than sync data and recharge the battery. There are pins for audio/video out, audio in for microphones, control signals from remotes and car head units, and the connections for Apple's radio tuner. The royalties can't be that much considering that the adaptor I mention above is only $5.
post #16 of 116
Throw aways micro-USB and adapt Apple's 30pin adapter to all cellphones. Imagine that.
Not only people can change any cell-phone but also iPod all with ONE CABLE.

Welcome back to 2003 Mobile Industry.
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post #17 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

Apologies to cowhide & Virgil if I'm wrong, but isn't the idea that the mini-USB will be the connection to the phone, not the power source? I wish Apple would do something like this, for when you are in need of power in a pinch, like the airport.

I don't know. I found the whole article confusing, thus my post.

All I'm sure of is that inductive charging and batteries that last days instead of hours is on the horizon which is the meaning behind my comment of them only getting together when the technology is almost obsolete anyway.
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post #18 of 116
I don't know why people are defending Apple's use of proprietary, expensive chords and converters. I don't care if other companies do it also, it's bad for consumers (yes, you). Why should you have to lug your laptop around with you (if you have one) just to be able to charge the iPod out of the box? It should at least come with a USB adapter to electrical outlet adapter (but, they want to sell it seperately).

Whoever said it's a way for Apple to nickle and dime their customers is correct. Just because other comanies do the same thing doesn't make it right (like having to buy a $45 chord to get pictures off of your phone...e.g. Verizon).

The only other beef I have is having to have my iPod Touch tethered to iTunes (which, can barely handle the load of music I have.. while every other program I use runs peppy, iTunes crawls at a snails pace). It would be much easier if you could dock, and then just copy music to it like a drive (like most other MP3 players). That, would be simplistic. Not having to use a bloated mandatory software package.
post #19 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenkman91 View Post

Apple, from the start, has used the the 30pin dock charger. Thats what they decided to use on their iPods (except the shuffle) and thats what they are using on their iPhones. Apple thinks different.

No, they didn't. They started using a firewire connection. I have an original 10GB iPod that doesn't have a dock connector on it. It was the first model that was marketed as being PC compatible out of the box. I don't know my Apple history that well, but I believe the dock connector was introduced shortly after Apple decided to sell PC compatible iPods because most PCs/laptops at the time didn't have firewire. I bought a SB Live! or some such card with a firewire port on it specifically for this purpose.

Without the move to USB compatible cables, I don't think the iPod would be the massive success it is today. I don't think most consumers would go buy a card just to hook up an iPod like I did.

Just goes to show that sometimes Apple does bend to the market and not the other way around. If they thought firewire was such a bang up idea, they could have made the dock connector go to a firewire port instead of USB.
post #20 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

I wasn't suggesting that Apple makes an inferior product. But if you need to borrow a charger, you are often SOL, unlike PC users who can swap cords the live long day.

If you're talking about desktops, sure. Macs can do the same, for the most part.

If you're talking about laptops, I'm going to call BS on this, sorry. At my workplace, ThinkPads are (were, actually - we're about 50% MBPs now) the norm, standardized on only a handful of models.

Guess how many kinds of AC adapter plugs the conference rooms need to have? One for each model.

Same manufacturer, same line, different AC plugs.

If you're talking about the *cell* charger, then again, I call shenanigans. A 'PC user' has zero advantage here, unless the cell phone is charging off of the PS/2 port.

Quote:
And they can walk into a lot more stores to buy a replacement.

If the store carries the charger and plug configuration for their particular model, sure. Much easier to just order it online from the manufacturer for most people, which puts it back in the same ballpark as Apple.

Quote:
This is becoming less of a problem as Apple has gained so much market share, but tell that to the G4 Powerbook owner who's lost or broken his charger.

Since the PBG4 didn't use MagSafe (which is what I assume you take exception with), several companies produced a charger for it. Still do, actually.
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post #21 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenkman91 View Post

okay, so why does Apple have to do what every other
company is doing?? I hate when websites post crap like this.

And I hate it when Apple fanboys post stupid stuff like the rest of your post.

Quote:
Yes its good that multiple cell companies are working together to develop a same charger, but why does Apple have to conform to this just because others are doing it?

Because they're making a cell phone now. Because from what others have posted, it sounds like the EU is going to mandate a standard cell phone charger. So either Apple will conform to the standard or exit the EU cell phone market (though there might be some chance of getting a waiver).

Quote:
Apple, from the start, has used the the 30pin dock charger. Thats what they decided to use on their iPods (except the shuffle) and thats what they are using on their iPhones. Apple thinks different.

Rolling eyes at the last comment...

Quote:
**NEWS FLASH** do you want to know why Apple has not come out with copy and paste or flash? Apple wants to see how other companies use this technology. When they see that others failed at it, they strive to learn from others mistakes and make it 10X better. Thats simple logic.

So basically, Apple follows the Microsoft policy so many people on this site like to mock. They wait for someone else to do something and then copy it. Good to know. That really does sound like thinking different...
post #22 of 116
I find it ironic that Apple was the first company that took that approach by using one port on your iPod and iPhone to charge it, connect to video and audio out, and punch of other stuff without carrying around punch of cables.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clymans View Post

No, they didn't. They started using a firewire connection. I have an original 10GB iPod that doesn't have a dock connector on it. It was the first model that was marketed as being PC compatible out of the box. I don't know my Apple history that well, but I believe the dock connector was introduced shortly after Apple decided to sell PC compatible iPods because most PCs/laptops at the time didn't have firewire. I bought a SB Live! or some such card with a firewire port on it specifically for this purpose.

Without the move to USB compatible cables, I don't think the iPod would be the massive success it is today. I don't think most consumers would go buy a card just to hook up an iPod like I did.

Just goes to show that sometimes Apple does bend to the market and not the other way around. If they thought firewire was such a bang up idea, they could have made the dock connector go to a firewire port instead of USB.

He said 30-pin connector not USB or Firewire. He is talking about the end that plugin to your iPod not computer.
post #23 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinx101 View Post


The only other beef I have is having to have my iPod Touch tethered to iTunes (which, can barely handle the load of music I have.. while every other program I use runs peppy, iTunes crawls at a snails pace). It would be much easier if you could dock, and then just copy music to it like a drive (like most other MP3 players). That, would be simplistic. Not having to use a bloated mandatory software package.

Media Monkey is pretty good at managing my library. I use it and iTunes together to handle my synching needs.
post #24 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

He said 30-pin connector not USB or Firewire. He is talking about the end that plugin to your iPod not computer.

It was firewire on BOTH ends. It came with a cable with standard firewire ports on both ends and an adapter to attach to a mini-firewire port on a computer.
post #25 of 116
Actually, Apple aren't excluded from the benefits of this, even though they'll never give up the dock connector (for perfectly good reasons).

What nobody's reporting is that the universal charger standard says that the charger has a USB type A plug on it, as well as the handset having a Micro-USB connector, just like the Apple adapter.

So you'll be able to use the Apple charger to charge a Nokia and the Nokia charger to charge an Apple but you'll just need a different cable.
post #26 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by caliminius View Post

So either Apple will conform to the standard or exit the EU cell phone market (though there might be some chance of getting a waiver).

Or Apple or someone else can come up with an adapter.
post #27 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by clymans View Post

It was firewire on BOTH ends. It came with a cable with standard firewire ports on both ends and an adapter to attach to a mini-firewire port on a computer.

You're correct. My bad
post #28 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Or Apple or someone else can come up with an adapter.

Wouldn't they have to include it with the purchase of new iPhones? If so, I wonder if Apple wouldn't decide to have a universal port instead, for aesthetic reasons?
post #29 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boer View Post

European Union is expected to make compatibility with a standard charger mandatory in few years. This makes perfect sense for customers, makers and the environment. This is also notably something a free market could never achieve.

As much as I am an anti-capitalist myself and European as well, and as much as I love it when something points out the severe limitations of the "capitalism cures all" meme ...

The more I think about this I don't think it's a good idea. Specifically in a fast moving industry like computer design, to force everyone to use the same connector when the decision on what connector that is has to be made by a giant slow-moving bureaucracy seems destined for problems. Why should a company have to compromise on good design and make a product bulkier and perhaps even less energy efficient merely to comply with a rule?

Here's hoping that rather than making this mandatory, that it is part of a "strong suggestion" or better yet a small collection of mandatory options instead of merely one choice. For companies like Apple that combine charging and syncing in one port, this is a net loss design wise and actually makes the product less desirable, less efficient etc.

Standardisation is good, and rules are good, but if there is no provision for allowing a variation that actually works better or smarter, then that's a "broken" system.
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post #30 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by dude abides View Post

Wouldn't they have to include it with the purchase of new iPhones? If so, I wonder if Apple wouldn't decide to have a universal port instead, for aesthetic reasons?

The beauty of Apple current dock connector is that it provide more than just charging. I don't know if it will be possible to have universal port that does the same thing. It might be easier and cheaper to give away a $1 adapter for EU buyers than redesign the whole thing with possibly 2 ports and cables for charging and syncing.
post #31 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

The more I think about this I don't think it's a good idea. Specifically in a fast moving industry like computer design, to force everyone to use the same connector when the decision on what connector that is has to be made by a giant slow-moving bureaucracy seems destined for problems. Why should a company have to compromise on good design and make a product bulkier and perhaps even less energy efficient merely to comply with a rule?

GSM was mandated in Europe in a similar way and it proved to be a bold and visionary move. The EU is known for its crazy rules and regulations but it's generally managed to the cellular market very well.
post #32 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

Why? The iPhone's is easily the smallest and most convenient AC charger available in the industry. The body of it is roughly a 1" cube and it's universal 100-240V. If you can't manage to fit one of these in your pocket/purse/briefcase/underwear you're in bigger trouble than any industry standard is going to help with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

The beauty of Apple current dock connector is that it provide more than just charging. I don't know if it will be possible to have universal port that does the same thing. It might be easier and cheaper to give away a $1 adapter for EU buyers than redesign the whole thing with possibly 2 ports and cables for charging and syncing.

While in all fairness, and while the dock does do several things, it is still an additional cable and sometimes an additional block too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

GSM was mandated in Europe in a similar way and it proved to be a bold and visionary move. The EU is known for its crazy rules and regulations but it's generally managed to the cellular market very well.

Too bad they weren't crazy enough to test whether it interferes with other equipment, like that distinctive sound I get when around some phones and audio equipment.
post #33 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinx101 View Post

I don't know why people are defending Apple's use of proprietary, expensive chords and converters.

So how much does a replacement cable cost? About $5-$10! Hardly expensive.
post #34 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinx101 View Post

It would be much easier if you could dock, and then just copy music to it like a drive (like most other MP3 players).

I agree! Why let software handle the hard work. I want my next iPod/iPhone to have front panel switches and lights so I can manually set the bits in memory.
post #35 of 116
I know the design wouldn't be as clean, but there's probably the option to have both the micro-usb and the dock connector. If you look at the bottom of the current iPhone, the mic and the speaker could potentially be moved to the same side of the dock connector and have the micro usb on the other side. Or if that'll cause interference, put it elsewhere. The connection is really small, though it'll cost Apple money to implement both.

I, like others, wonder if how many of the things a dock connector can do can also be done by a micro usb. I'll bet it's not many, or at least I doubt it's as simple for third party manufacturers.
post #36 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by chabig View Post

So how much does a replacement cable cost? About $5-$10! Hardly expensive.

If it's a licensed cable, Apple gets $4 per dock connector. I'm skeptical that a cable in your price range is licensed.
post #37 of 116
The article forgot to mention that the universal charging method would be Micro-USB.
post #38 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

GSM was mandated in Europe in a similar way and it proved to be a bold and visionary move. The EU is known for its crazy rules and regulations but it's generally managed to the cellular market very well.

Still, it all depends on the exact implementation.

Personally I *don't* think that the EU makes "crazy" rules. The USA could learn a lot from the EU in my opinion. This particular rule, in this particular industry, I am not so sure of. Cellular infrastructure changes very slowly, mobile computer product design is on a yearly or sub-yearly cycle.

Perhaps by the time they get around to mandating it, inductive charging will be a reality in the iPhone which would make the whole thing a moot point as it's only the connection to the actual device that Apple would be non-compliant on right now and that would be eliminated.
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post #39 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by elliots11 View Post

I know the design wouldn't be as clean, but there's probably the option to have both the micro-usb and the dock connector. If you look at the bottom of the current iPhone, the mic and the speaker could potentially be moved to the same side of the dock connector and have the micro usb on the other side. Or if that'll cause interference, put it elsewhere. The connection is really small, though it'll cost Apple money to implement both.

I, like others, wonder if how many of the things a dock connector can do can also be done by a micro usb. I'll bet it's not many, or at least I doubt it's as simple for third party manufacturers.

Still, how dumb is it that in Apple's case they would be forced to make a bulkier, less-efficient device than what they currently have? Mandated standards make sense in most cases, but if there is no provision for a better design than the standard, or if companies that already have a better design have to dumb down the device just to tick off a check box, it seems like the mandate is counter-productive in those cases.
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post #40 of 116
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

If it's a licensed cable, Apple gets $4 per dock connector. I'm skeptical that a cable in your price range is licensed.

Personally I don't care if it's licensed or not.

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