Revolutionary Over Practicality.
Apples new wireless headphones and iPhone update have caused great debate amongst consumers. Have Apple abandoned the needs of their consumers for flashy upgrades?
I feel that every year now, when Apple release their latest iPhone, the whole world goes into a very brief but very real frenzy. I have friends, family and colleagues who will religiously discard their once cherished iPhone as if it had the plague for the slightly updated, slightly changed in size new model. Personally, I don’t get the same thrill; as long as my iPhone 5S continues to work, I will put my $1,000 towards my next holiday.
To me, each phone, despite a much nicer camera (I admittedly would like a better camera), isn’t really that revolutionary, and inherently doesn’t grab my attention or my wallet because they’re all quite the same.
However, as most of you now know, actually,
all of you now know,
the latest iPhone, the iPhone 7 has caused easily the biggest stir of all its predecessors, and I can say confidently that it has certainly grabbed the attention of this author. Unlike the iPhones before it, this is most certainly revolutionary. Apple’s decision to shock us all and remove the iPod jack, and give their users the wireless headphones “Airpod’s”, is the biggest shake up in the smartphone market since well, the iPhone was first released.
Apple Senior Vice president Philip Schiller advocated that removing the headphone jack was an act of “courage”, a step forward in our movement towards revolutionary technology, breaking the shackles of our complacent and ever comfortable dependance on technology that has been around for over a decade. Apple want to change the game, and they certainly have, but, these Airpods, and the removal of the jack, have raised more questions than answers, and I have to say, I am very skeptical.
Let’s start with the biggest point of discussion that has left a lot of Apple customers unhappy, the disappearance of the jack. My heart initially sank when I thought I was never going to be able to use another pair of headphones, and cringed internally for Apple. However, Apple has given their customers a ‘dongle’ that allows you to plug in your expensive pair of Bose headphones or your car AUX cord. Problem solved?
Aesthetically, the dongle isn’t great, but the real issue lies in how it limits your iPhone usage. Due to the dongle being placed into the charging point, say goodbye to listening to music while your phone is charging. I do that every single day in the office; that luxury is now gone. Apple has made it awkward for you to use other headphones, and I get it, they want their customers using their products, not to mention they want their customers following them into a generation of technology.
To their credit, the headphones do have some impressive features. They can link with any Mac, iPad, iPod, and any other devices through bluetooth. The smoothness of the transition into Apple’s other devices is the real impressive part of it all, as the traditional process of the bluetooth hook up that so frequently proves to a bane of your existence is now gone. Also, they turn on as soon as they go in your ear, and turn off as soon as you take them out. Pretty cool? Undoubtedly.
However, these new headphones are not without fault, from a functional perspective and from a practical one, I fear this push for customers to only use their products so suddenly is a dangerous game for Apple to be playing.
Firstly, the battery life of the Airpod’s maxes out at five hours. The idea that my headphones might die before my iPhone does is something that customers, this one included, find extremely counter intuitive. In addition, the headphone prices, compared to their corded predecessors, is exponentially higher. I struggle to hand over the $45 for the current headphones, to hand over $230, is something I do not want to have to do. On that notion of replacing them, I don’t see how losing your new and improved headphones won’t become a much more frequent issue.
The beauty of the cord, is that should your headphone fall out of your ear, not only is the other one their to keep it from hitting the floor, but even if both fall, you don’t lose them, they’re connected to the phone in your hand. No falling down the gutter, no falling on the busy train floor at Flinders Street to be crushed by the 5.45 rush; there is an element of security to the traditional headphones that their upgraded counter parts cannot guarantee. Im sure when you’re going for your morning jog this spring to get yourself in shape for summer, the idea that your spanking new $230 headphones could fall onto the pavement, will inherently be keeping you in bed for that extra 30 minutes. Some of you may find that appealing, I certainly don’t.
Steve Jobs supposedly designed his products with six key pillars in mind. The second pillar, empathy, suggests that Apple products will be built in a way that shows they truly understand their customers needs better than any other company. This move by Apple however, seems more internally focussed than externally. They’re suggesting that this is in fact a move to make our lives easier, but does it? I feel the desire for Apple to have a complete stronghold on the market is the true focal point here, not improving the user experience.
No one can say that Apple aren’t dedicated to evolution, or pushing the boundaries. That is technology development to the core, and they should be lauded for trying to lead us into the new age of headphone and music listening software. One day, wireless headphones will be the norm, and people may sight this move by Apple as the one that started it all, but to do it so suddenly, without any slow integration, I think Apple may find that people are open to change, but not as quickly as they would have hoped.