Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack has caught the ire of some. But it’s just more of Apple remembering what its co-founder once taught the company.
At the D8 Conference in 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs talked about several things, including his vision for the future. But now, just days after Apple decided to remove the headphone jack in its iPhone 7, it’s his talk of “courage” that has some naysayers starting to understand why the company made the decision in the first place.
“We’re trying to make great products for people, and so we have at least the courage of our convictions to say ‘we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product, we’re going to leave it out,” Jobs said in an interview with Recode founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in 2010. “And we’re going to instead focus our energy on these technologies, which we think are in their ascendancy and we think are going to be the right technologies for customers.”
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The video, which was earlier reported on by both Recode and Apple-watcher site 9to5Mac, is even more relevant today. At Apple’s press event last week, the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller used the term “courage” when he announced that Apple was removing the headphone jack in the iPhone 7. He argued that the technology is old, that consumers are willing to try something new, and Apple (AAPL) wants to deliver a technology that “betters all of us.”
In truth, it appears this is just Apple being the Apple that Steve Jobs wanted. After all, during his tenure as Apple’s chief executive, it was Jobs who decided to eliminate then-popular products in his devices, including support for Adobe’s Flash. Jobs was also instrumental in Apple ditching disc drives in its computers and removing the 5-inch floppy disk in favor of a 3.5-inch floppy disk, among other moves.
While Jobs died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer, current Apple CEO Tim Cook worked for Jobs and has himself noted that he learned a lot from his former boss and Apple’s co-founder. Apple’s other top executives, including its design chief Jony Ive and Schiller, also apprenticed under Jobs. So, while a company as big as Apple removing the headphone jack might seem odd in general, when taken in context and understanding that Apple’s top decision-makers all worked for someone who wasn’t afraid to eliminate old technologies, it makes some sense.
But what’s striking is that Jobs arguably made the best argument for Apple removing the headphone jack years before the company even did so. In the end, Jobs’ argument that customers will ultimately decide with their wallets whether it was the right decision makes some sense.
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“You know what? They’re paying us to make those choices,” Jobs said of deciding to eliminate popular features in Apple products. “That’s what a lot of customers pay us to do: it’s to try to make the best products we can. And if we succeed, they’ll buy them. And if we don’t, they won’t. And it’ll all work itself out.”
Now, all that’s left is to find out on Friday when the iPhone 7 launches if customers think Apple made the right choices.