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OM in the News: Apple Redesigns the iPhone Connector — The World Freaks Out

August 12, 2012

This is indeed from the title of Businessweek’s (July 26, 2012) article about the 30 pin connector found in every Apple product for the past 9 years. That was when Steve Jobs  unveiled the third-generation iPod, the first device with a plug design that has become nearly as significant to independent manufacturers as iTunes has to the music industry. The bottom-mounted connector capable of transferring songs and charging the music player is now a standard Apple  component. Makers of mobile accessories use the plug’s specifications when designing chargers, cases, speakers, and stands for iPods, iPhones, and iPads.

That $1.3 billion-a-year market will soon be upended by the connector’s first overhaul since 2003. The new plug will have only 19 connector pins, down from 30 in the port used by more than 600 million iPods, iPhones, and iPads, as well as millions of third-party accessories. Manufacturers who took the design for granted aren’t thrilled.  “There’s an entire ecosystem built around a single connector that’s going to be obsolete,” says one industry expert.

Apple executives are well aware of that. The company sells its own peripherals and enjoys a lucrative relationship with third-party accessory makers, who pay about $4 for each accessory authorized by Apple. Apple has long kept a close eye on the accessory market and in 2010 slapped patent-infringement lawsuits on companies that sold unlicensed iPod cables, chargers, and speakers.

Regardless of the disruption it will cause, the redesign is overdue. Wireless software is making plugs less critical, as new accessories can play music from an iPod, tablet, or smartphone without a physical link. Some companies have stopped making Apple accessories pending a formal announcement.

The bottom line: A design upgrade for Apple’s connector, unchanged for nearly a decade, could mean new peripherals for much of its huge existing user base.

Discussion questions:

1. How is OM a part of this  product redesign?

2. Describe another product’s redesign and its similarity to the impact on the market.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 15, 2012 4:29 pm

    I just like the valuable information you supply on your articles.
    I will bookmark your blog!

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