This week, we heard rumors about a new MacBook Air design that will eliminate all ports. That's right, not so much as a USB port to plug in your thumb drive. Some might think it's about design uber alles, but I think if it's true, it would be the ultimate high-end cloud machine.Apple is often on the leading edge of these types of computing changes. It was one of the first companies to remove floppy drives and CD/DVD drives. Now if the rumors are accurate, it plans to remove USB ports and the SD card slot too. If you want software or to share files, there's only one way to do it, you'll have to use the cloud.
There will probably be other wireless protocols involved too including WiFi, Airdrop and Bluetooth to exchange and connect things, but the notion of wires and physical devices? That's going away.
You can be sure that many will kick and scream upon hearing this news, just as we heard with every change Apple has brought to computing. People will call the change arrogant on Apple's part. They will say it's another case of Apple failing to recognize backward capability. But if there's one thing we've learned about Apple over the years, it's that they were never a company that was concerned about what's in the rear view mirror. They have always been about looking forward, and if you think about it, this purported change makes perfect sense in the cloud age. We don't need no stinkin' ports. All we need is a WiFi connection and our cloud services.
Look, it's not as though you can't get everything you need without a physical connection. Apple's App stores and other platform's equivalents are the way we purchase software now. We don't go to a store and buy a box anymore, and we don't generally share files via a thumb drive. You don't even need a physical connection to print your documents.
There will be times we miss a physical connection, of course. Not all external equipment like cameras work wirelessly yet, and I need to connect my HP all-in-one printer to the drive to run the scanner. It simply doesn't function over the wireless connection.
But as with everything else, we will squawk when we run into one of those obstacles over the short term, but over the long term, chances are we won't miss a physical connection. I suspect, the thumb drive makers will find a way to make them work with some sort of wireless protocol to remain relevant.
Certainly, the security folks in IT will be happy when you can't connect a thumb drive to your computer anymore and take files with you that way.
Like everything else time will pass and we will think back to a day when we had USB ports on our laptops. And of course, the competition will eat this up. They will sell their devices with extra ports just to show Apple and to draw in those who are frustrated by the change.
But in the end, it won't matter all that much and we will connect to all the services we need from the cloud and life will go on.
Photo courtesy of Apple.