Does Apple’s Lightning Headphone Standard Signal the End of 3.5mm Headphone Connector Standard?


I was thinking about the recent news story about Apple’s specifications for headphones with lightning connectors.  On the one hand it signals fascinating opportunities to extend headphone features, functionality, and control.  On the other hand, as it was looking at the iPod Touch and leaked designs of the iPhone 6 case, it struck me that the Apple is also looking to address another physical, design issue: namely that mobile phones are now becoming as thin (and potentially thinner) than the 3.5mm headphone jack.

If Apple continues down this path, it will need another connector to accommodate the ultra thin design of the iPhone.  Moreover, the footprint of the 3.5mm analog headphone jack is taking up ever-increasing space in these shrinking case designs.

This isn’t the first time Apple has done such a forward-thinking move.  Apple was among the first computer makers to get rid of the floppy drive, among the first to eliminate CD/DVD drives from the machines, and among the first to eliminate separate batteries in portable devices — all to save space.

Initially, both users and pundits scratched their heads at these moves.  In hindsight, you can always see Apple’s marriage of form, function, and technology.   For Apple, if something doesn’t work the way they want it or need it to work, then they’ll develop a technology or solution to solve that problem.

Time will tell if the lightning connector headphone specification is yet another instance of Apple’s forward-thinking form changes the way our devices function.