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Capitalism: Story about Apple and connectors
  • Story had been originally told by iPhone team member to Apple software developers during big drink party (during this summer) :-).

    As you may know Apple is going from Lighting connector to USB-C connector. And during this transition one old engineer from iPhone team offered to make wider magnetic connector instead of USB-C and provided extremely detailed docs he made. Other end will be still USB-A or USB-C connector, it will support PD and all. Team made few prototypes (real looking phones and cables with connectors). They made number of tests with it and extremely liked the approach.

    Upon regular presentation to upper management they showed prorotypes and tests data. Reaction was not that they expected.

    Top managers told that it is unacceptable solution, reasons being:

    1. Life expectancy for connector is around 10x of USB-C one during hard use and up to 25x in gentle use, meaning much less service income (replacing connector is most profitable and frequent operation). Apple has special metric to keep number of connector replacements not below certain amount. USB-C brings new nigh hopes as connector love to collect various dust and such from pockets,
    2. Engineer made smart cable design with wide connector, so cable life had been more than 5x of planned USB-C cable (that is in turn around 2x better than present lighting crappy cables). Also bad, as cable sales are important part of income.
    3. Magnet cable reduced by around 20% number of severely damaged phones within first 3 years of use (broken screen, bent, destroyed connector area). This comes from standard tests Apple made internally (prorotypes also made this). Not good as mamagement said.
    4. Proprietary cable is good, but new requirements for USB-C devices certification will compensate the drop of income and pose no decision risk. And chinese will copy it fast anyway.

    So, all this went to nothing. Only 2 team guys made special iPhones that they use that have such connector, and love it.

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  • Interesting story, thanks.