Not unnoticed, but perhaps overshadowed during the keynote at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) was the announcement of a new version of the MagSafe power connector. MagSafe is a proprietary connector that attaches magnetically so that if pulled it will pull away from the socket safely, without damaging the hardware or pulling the laptop to the floor.
The introduction of the MagSafe 2 is particularly significant as it relates to other Apple laptops, which have been utilizing the original MagSafe since it’s introduction in 2006. Changing the connector makes cables and devices from older MacBooks entirely incompatible without an adapter… one that Apple happens to sell for $10. Considering the cost of an additional power cable (currently $79 on apple.com), this is clearly a bargain, BUT…
The introduction of a new proprietary connector is interesting, particularly as rumors surrounding the next generation iPhone describe an updated, thinner 30-pin connector, reportedly required to fit within a re-designed device. A connector for new iOS devices (iPod, iPhone and iPad) that is incompatible with older devices poses a much larger issue as there is an entire industry based on third-party devices that utilize the 30-pin connector. If we assume that this rumor is true ( Editor’s Note: we do believe it is ), then every extra charging cable, battery pack, external speaker, alarm clock, docking station and other accessory that is currently on the market is suddenly in need of an adapter.
If I were a decision-maker at Apple and if a new 30-pin connector was inevitable, I would make that transition as simple and inexpensive as possible for the end-user. I would include one adapter in the box of every iOS device that utilized the new connector and I would make the adapters available wherever Apple products are sold. Obviously, design of the adapter would be in Apple’s own clean style, but keeping the profile to a minimum would be essential to allow new iOS devices to fit within older third-party accessories. I would make adapters available for free to anyone with a new iOS device and an Apple-produced product with the original 30-pin connector. Finally, I would make the adapters as inexpensive as possible; I suspect that between $5 and $10 would keep good will among the Apple faithful.
I could imagine a new sub-set of accessories drawing from the necessity of these adapters: adapter key-chains, adapters with an extra headphone jack and adapters with batteries… the possibilities are there for the taking.
I suspect that Apple’s introduction of the new MagSafe is a fairly safe way for them to test the waters before adding the (far more disruptive ) new 30-pin connection. What are your insights and opinions on the new generation of Apple’s proprietary connectors? Do you think it may be a much larger issue?