has famously eschewed any industry standardization with its device connectors in favor of proprietary options, including when it rolled out
the new Lightning
connector and sucker punched an entire side industry’s worth of iOS
accessories that weren’t compatible with new iPhones and iPads. Frank Nuovo, Nokia
’s phone design guru, is on record as saying that Apple needs to get with the program and switch to a standard micro USB connector as essentially the rest of the mobile industry has done.
“I think that the world is frustrated that you have to have a proprietary connector at this point of maturity in the mobile phone world, we have reached a point where these phones of different brands are everywhere,” he told the Financial Review. He also stated, “If you want to be a part of the larger ecosystem, then you have to start talking to the industry as a whole, or you are just causing a lot of inconvenience.”
Nokia's Frank Nuovo (Credit: AFR)
It’s a fair point, and although there was a time when nothing compared to the iPhone, and Apple could be as finicky and proprietary as it wanted (and you’ll like it), Nuovo is right that things have changed. There are more Android
-based phones in the world than iPhones, and despite Apple’s half-hearted attempt to grab new users and hit a lower price point with the plastic iPhone 5C, buyers in emerging markets are going to be grabbing Android phones and other less expensive handsets far more than anything based on iOS.
Apple may be shooting itself in the foot a bit by steadfastly holding to its proprietary Lightning connector instead of playing nice with the industry. Then again, by maintaining its stance, Apple both gets to dictate terms and make money on licensing from the many, many iOS accessory makers and also build whatever technology or capabilities into its connector that it wants. That strategy may not work forever, but it seems to be a profitable way for Apple to do things for now--even if it’s sometimes inconvenient.