Ending the tyranny of connected devices

Posted by Ron Miller on Mar 20, 2015 3:35:00 PM

MacBook_PSL_AllColors_PR-PRINTApple was slammed hard last week when it announced a new MacBook so thin it doesn't have space for any stand-alone USB ports. We're talking thin.

It marked the beginning of the end of the connected device.

The new MacBook has replaced the venerable USB port with a single-purpose port for charging, VGA, USB, and data transfer. One port to rule them all, and an $80 external multi-port adaptor or USB to USB-C adaptor for $19.

You could hear the screams of outrage almost as soon as Apple announced this change.

You can argue whether Apple was right to sacrifice ports in the name of design (although Apple has never been afraid to sacrifice popular tools, whether a floppy drive or a CD drive). But if you think about it, you can envision life without ports if you use a little imagination and a strong dose of cloud and Bluetooth.

You can share files from one Apple device to another without wires now using AirDrop. If you don't own an Apple device, there are many ways to share in the cloud.

The other day I was at SXSW, and a friend of mine took pictures and video with his Android phone while I experienced some very cool virtual reality demonstrations. He shared them with me in his Dropbox account. We didn't have to exchange USB drives, and it didn't matter that we didn't have compatible hardware. 

What about your printer? I haven't connected my printer directly to my computer in years. OK. How about my phone? What if I want to recharge my phone? I was at Mobile World Congress recently, and the future is wireless charging.

Wireless Charging

IKEA introduced charging tables at Mobile World Congress. Imagine, within the next five years walking into your favorite coffeeshop or a hotel room and instead of searching desperately for an outlet, you simply toss your phone on the table, and it recharges itself, automagically. We are not that far away from that vision.

As the cloud, device-to-device communication, and wireless charging technologies develop further, we will look upon wires as a quaint vestige of an earlier time. Apple understands (as usual, long before everyone else) that the USB port as a means of connecting is not going to be necessary in the not-too-distant future.

Instead of holding on desperately for the sake of backwards compatibility, Apple just rips off the Band-Aid and says buh-bye.

Should you buy one of these new MacBooks? There will probably be times in this period of transition when you miss your USB port, but eventually you won't because you'll find easy work-arounds—simply because you have to.

We don't need USB ports anymore. We just think we do. In the end, as usual, Apple gets it right, and we'll learn very soon to live without the tyranny of connected devices.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Apple.

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Topics: Cloud Trends

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