Out with the old
One of the things that makes Apple so successful is that it’s not afraid to abandon/kill popular technologies in the interest of something new. In doing so, the company often creates a bit of controversy, even if in the long run it seems to pan out well. At the same time, Apple’s revolutionary products have helped bring down entire product categories. Here is a rundown of technologies and products that Apple has killed (or is in the process of killing) over the last 17 years.
The first product released during Steve Jobs’s second stint at Apple was the Bondi Blue iMac. The all-in-one design was an immediate hit with consumers, and the machine was notable as much for its iconic look and performance as it was for the features it didn’t include. Specifically, the first iMac shipped without a floppy drive. At the time, back in 1997, this was a huge deal. To some critics, Apple was running a huge risk by completely doing away with what was then a common storage medium. Jobs and Apple, though, had the foresight to realize that computing was rapidly becoming Internet-centric, thereby eliminating the need for old-fashioned floppy drives.
Apple’s 30-pin connector
For over a decade, iPod, iPhone, and iPad users alike relied on Apple’s tried-and-true 30-pin connector for charging and to connect their devices with computers and accessories. But Apple said goodbye to the 30-pin connector in 2012 when it introduced the Lightning connector, a superior standard for a number of reasons. In addition to being smaller and more robust, the Lightning connector is reversible, which makes for a more efficient user experience. Naturally, abandoning the 30-pin connector on new iOS devices caused temporary problems for individual consumers and even large companies who had spent lots of money on older iOS accessories.
Remember Netbooks? A few years back, these hyper-small laptops were poised to be the next big thing in computing. In fact, back in 2008 and 2009, netbooks were flying off the shelves. As a result, there was a lot of pressure for Apple to enter the netbook market. Apple, however, went a different route when it released the iPad. Rather than opting for a compromised device, the company entered a new product category entirely with the iPad. The end result was a rather quick demise for the netbook, and in parallel, a reinvigorated market for tablets.
FireWire was a proprietary Apple technology which allowed for incredibly fast transfer speeds between devices. Indeed, it was one of the features that made the original iPod so compelling. Beyond that, FireWire was, for a time, the de-facto standard for transferring digital movie footage to Macs.
Unfortunately, Apple ultimately began phasing out FireWire on Macs in 2008 as transitioning to USB expanded the company’s pool of potential users. It’s a shame, though, because USB 2.0, while decent, was vastly inferior to FireWire. The staggered abandonment of FireWire ultimately gave way to Thunderbolt.
In 2011, Adobe announced that it was ending development for mobile flash, a decision which can be traced back to Apple’s decision not to incorporate mobile Flash on the iPhone. Citing security and performance issues, Apple had long refused to budge against a chorus of folks demanding Apple support mobile Flash. In fact, Steve Jobs went so far as to pen a public letter detailing a number of problems associated with Flash. Apple’s continued reluctance to support mobile Flash ultimately killed it four years after the original iPhone debuted.
Point and Shoot Cameras (and Kodak)
Though the original iPhone camera was nothing special, Apple over the years dedicated a tremendous amount of engineering resources towards enhancing and improving it. Today, photo quality on the iPhone is astounding, and sales of point-and-shoot cameras have suffered as a result. Driving this point home, Kodak, an iconic name in photography, was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2013. To be fair, the iPhone wasn’t and isn’t the only smartphone with great camera quality, but seeing as how the iPhone ushered in the era of the modern day smartphone, the demise of the point-and-shoot camera can be directly traced back to the iPhone.
Apple Desktop Bus
With the iMac, Apple also did away with the Apple Desktop Bus, which, at the time, was the standard way Mac users connected their machines to keyboards and mice. In its place was USB, still what Apple features in its line of Mac systems today.
It’s not quite extinct just yet, but Apple began phasing out optical drives when it released the MacBook Air back in January 2008. Since then, Apple has slowly but surely begun to do away with optical drives in some of its MacBook laptops and also the recently redesigned iMac Apple released in late 2012. Especially in a world where streaming is becoming more prevalent, both in music and in video, the need for physical media has been waning consistently for quite some time. While not nearly as extinct as floppy drives, the days of CD and DVDs are certainly numbered, something Apple anticipated years ago when it began axing optical drives from its product line.
Horrible mobile displays
These days, it’s certainly easy to take high-quality mobile displays for granted. But it wasn’t that long ago that the masses were using what today seem like antiquated, low-resolution displays. With the iPhone 4, Apple introduced the Retina Display, a extremely high-resolution display that made previous iPhone displays look, to be quite honest, horrible. Thankfully, other mobile manufacturers followed suit, and high-quality displays have become the norm. If you have a pre-iPhone 4 lying around, compare it to a modern day smartphone and the difference in quality is jarring. Thanks to the iPhone 4, other smartphone manufacturers were eventually forced to start shipping similarly impressive displays.
This past October, the prime minister of Finland, one Alexander Stubb, attributed his country’s financial woes to Apple in an interview with CNBC. Specifically, Stubb blamed the rise of the iPhone with sending Nokia off into relative irrelevance. He also took issue with the iPad, noting: “A little bit paradoxically, I guess one could say that the iPhone killed Nokia, and the iPad killed the Finnish paper industry.”
Credit card swiping (Apple hopes)
This past October, Apple launched Apple Pay, the company’s take on a mobile payment platform. Thus far, Apple Pay has been lauded for its ease of use, convenience, and intuitiveness. Although not all retailers currently support Apple Pay, Apple’s new payment platform stands a strong chance of becoming extremely ubiquitous in the years ahead. Consumers love the convenience, banks love the security, and we may one day look back at traditional credit card swiping (which is far from secure) as a relic of a different era.