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IPhone 5 connector upsets Apple fans, boon for accessory makers

September 13, 2012|By Salvador Rodriguez

It's not even out, but Apple fans are already upset at Apple's decision to go with a new dock connector for the iPhone 5.

That's because a new connector means buyers of the new smartphone may have to get a whole new set of accessories and that could add up.

During Apple's keynote Wednesday, the company said the iPhone was losing the 30-pin connector that's been the standard for all its devices since at least 2003. It's adopting a new eight-pin connector called the Lightning.

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Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller told All Things D that a smaller connector was necessary to keep making thinner devices.

In addition, the connector will allow for more durable cables that can be attached whether it is face down or up, meaning you'll never again have that experience in which you try plugging the cable in but it's upside down. Also, the cable's other end is still a USB plug, so users' wall adapters still will work.

However, the new connector won't work with older accessories that use the 30-pin connector, such as speakers with docks, car chargers or other accessories without one of Apple's two new adapters. They cost $30 and $40, depending which kind of connection you need. Also, Apple said some older accessories simply won't work even with an adapter.

If you are a longtime Apple user, you have probably amassed an arsenal of cables that will no longer work without an adapter.

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"Dear Apple, you're stupid for changing the charger design for iPhone 5. You should of kept the old charger. Sincerely, everyone," tweeted one user. 

Writer Dave Pell tweeted: "Anyone want to buy 31 old iPhone connector cables?"

But Apple's decision to go with a new connector could be a boon to accessory makers who said they were looking forward to an uptick in sales.

"This is only going to be better for us at the end of the day," Mark Sabbagh, co-founder of iPhone accessory maker Good Call said before the iPhone 5 announcement. "This will just bring in new business."

Sabbagh also said for many manufacturers, their 30-pin accessories won't go obsolete either. Apple has used that connector for the iPhone since 2007 and still uses it on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, which it is still selling.

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"Millions and millions of 30-pin connectors have been sold over the course of the past 10 years or so,"  he said. "So business will not go away."

Meanwhile, Dave Gatto, chief executive of Apple accessory maker InCase, said the new Lightning connector is the "kind of change that always seems to create opportunity." And among those opportunities, Gatto said, will be the need for adapters for old accessories.

"Consumers who have many devices that utilize the old pin will have some kind of way to utilize the new pin," he said before the Apple announcement.

Dominic Symons, founder of accessory maker BlueLounge, said he thinks Apple officials know how drastic a change this will be for consumers and they are only making it for the sake of improving technology.

"They know it's for the better good," he said. "If they're changing it, they're improving it."


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