Will Apple Dump the iPad and iPhone Dock Connector this Year?

According to a new rumor, Apple may be planning on ditching its current iPad and iPhone dock connector this year, in favor of a smaller micro dock.

Apple’s current 30-pin dock connector that comes equipped on iPods, iPads, and iPhones has been in use by the company for approximately ten years, so it makes sense that it’s time for a change.

The switch to a different dock connector would put thousands of iDevice accessories out of commission, including specialized charging devices and docks that are designed for 30-pin ports. This will likely anger some folks, but Apple is not adverse to adopting new equipment when it is deemed necessary by the company, even when it goes against popular opinion.

Take, for example, the MacBook Air. Apple dropped the optical drive from the laptops in order to make them as thin as possible. When the Airs first came out in 2008, many people thought that they would flop, because who would want a computer without a DVD drive? How would software be installed? How would we watch our DVDS? And indeed, it was a tough transition to utilize a laptop without that equipment in 2008, which was before the advent of most cloud networks, and at a time when we were still installing software the old-fashioned way.

USA Today called the MacBook Air flawed, and predicted that no one would use the Air as their only computer. But Apple forged ahead, and set the bar for future notebooks. Today, there are a range of Ultrabooks that have surged in popularity, and the optical drive is being phased out entirely.

Apple also did not hesitate when it dropped PowerPC for Intel, switched from Mac OS to OSX, ditched Firewire in favor of USB, and removed floppy disks from its lineup of Macs early on. In fact, Steve Jobs was widely known as a technology disruptor, and he had no problems putting an end to things when he had a better solution in mind.

Innovation, and the willingness to take risks and drop what works for what’s better is an important quality, and one of the reasons why Apple thrives. The company rarely holds on to current, comfortable technology for too long without reaching for more.

Why the switch to a different dock connector? Size, plain and simple. The current 30-pin  dock connector works, but it takes up valuable real estate in a time when thin and light are key design elements for electronic devices. A smaller dock connector would afford Apple more space to add other important hardware, and allow the company to shave precious millimeters off of its products.

Current 30-Pin Cord

So what will Apple switch to? It won’t be micro-USB, which has been deemed too slow, despite the fact that it is used by many other electronics manufacturers. Did you know that The European Union implemented legislation that requires electronic devices to have a common way of charging, i.e, the micro-USB? Apple never adopted the standard, and instead, shipped its products with a converter. According to iMore, where the rumor originated, Thunderbolt is equally unlikely due to a lack of PCI Express architecture support. It’s unknown exactly what Apple will go with, but a micro version of the current dock is the likely choice.

iMore is predicting that the iPhone 5 will be the first device to sport the new connector, though it’s not entirely out of the question that it could show up on the iPad 3. Regardless, at some point this year, we may be replacing all of our current car chargers and docking solutions with new ones.

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