I met with the estimable @yobyot the other day and among the various complaints and commiserations we shared was a moment of venting about Apple switching up all our connectors for no particularly clear reason except perhaps selling lots of new cables, converters, dongles and adapters, all containing tightly patented Apple technology. Behold my latest shiny aluminum acquisition, the magsafe to magsafe 2 (or is that magsafe 2 to magsafe?) converter.
Why would Apple do this to their loyal fanboys? The difference between the two magsafe connectors is so slight as to be hard to discern unless you have them side by side, or unless you try to connect the wrong one. The cynical answer is selling lots of little (easy to lose) $10 converters. The possibly fairer answer is, “thinness” the driving force in computer, tablet, and phone design these days. The old magsafe power adapter was just too big-boned for the latest generation of airy ipads and macbooks. You can see a similar event in the iphone world with the switch from the 30-pin connector to the lightning connector, which by the way, is very very nearly the same slim size as a micro-usb plug. You’ll notice that when you purchase a barely-there $19 lightning to micro USB adapter.
At this rate of Steven King-esqe thinning of devices, it won’t be long before the good old 1/8″ headphone plug goes the way of the RS-232. I won’t hold my breath for a sustainable industry wide standard on cabling, but it’s fun to dream.
What to do? Stay on the trendy treadmill and keep buying expensive cabling and piling on the e-waste? I’d love to break the cycle and I’ve been clinging, hipster-like, to old gear as long as humanly possible, but eventually it becomes time for a change.