New Dock Connector Would Be Huge Boon for iThingy Makers
Word on the street has it that the next iPhone will have a smaller dock connector. For consumers, that's mostly bad news -- their existing stash of accessories won't be compatible with the next new iPhone without some sort of adapter. For accessory manufacturers, though, it means demand for their products will likely leap, as iPhone owners seek out fresh new gear to go with their new handsets.
Apple hasn't confirmed it, but rumors suggest that the iPhone 5, which will hit stores this October, will have a 19-pin connector port instead of the 30-pin connector it has had for years.
The new connector will allow for a slimmer design and for the earphone to be moved to the bottom of the phone.
"The rumor is that they're shrinking the existing connector to save space on the product, but there will still be a physical connector," Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis, told MacNewsWorld. "This would be a pretty big change."
Given that the rumor has been so specific and persistent, it seems likely to be true, Pete Cunningham, principal analyst with Canalys, told MacNewsWorld.
"There seems to be a constant battle between Apple and Samsung, in terms of trying to optimize the size of the device as much as possible," he said. "Changing the connector would give Apple more capacity to play with the industrial design and size of the device."
Adapting to Change
An adapter -- supplied either by Apple or other manufacturers -- will be vital for consumers who want to continue to use their accessories with new phones. In particular, an adapter supplied by Apple would help ease the transition from old to new iPhones and accessories.
"Our expectation is that there would be an adapter from Apple," said Cunningham.
Adapters might also be developed by third parties, however, creating a variety of ways to adapt to the change.
"I think there is going to be a mini-industry of adapters, so you can plug a 19-port iProduct into a 30-port dock," said Greengart.
New Demand for Accessories
The real beneficiaries of this change, however, could well be the accessories manufacturers and distributors. Accessories, after all, are central to the iPhone experience.
"Accessory manufacturers will be over the moon because they will sell you new products," remarked Greengart."The accessories business has helped to propel Apple's growth. You can dock your iPhone in your living room, in your hotel's clock radio, in certain cars, in certain airplanes. This would absolutely be a big change. Some consumers will be annoyed by it. But Apple is also famous for abandoning connectivity standards and adopting new ones in ways that it feels helps its design."
The change might be annoying to consumers -- but not to those who create speakers, docking stations, and other iPhone-compatible devices.
"It's an opportunity to sell new accessories -- docking stations, etc.," said Cunningham. "The standard docking stand sales have slowed. What this does is bring an opportunity to sell more accessories, so actually it's a positive for the accessory market."
And just because there's a new iPhone doesn't mean the old ones -- or their accessories -- will go away.
"It's worth noting Apple probably won't discontinue old iPhones, [but rather] just drop them in price," said Greengart. "If you go into an AT&T store, the iPhone 4S might be US$99 and the iPhone 4 [might be] free. And those customers are going to want to connect their phones to the older accessories."