When tech innovations bite users in the butt

Tech giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have an obligation to make technical changes tolerable for those who pay the bills

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I give Microsoft some credit, though. It has repeatedly pushed back the date on which it will end support for XP, which now won't happen until 2014. Mozilla too reached an accommodation with business by essentially forking Firefox, creating a business version that changes very slowly and is supported for much longer than the consumer edition.

Apple's greedy connector ploy
Apple, on the other hand, is doing nothing of the sort. Changing the connector on an iPhone is obviously not even close to the magnitude of forcing a change in an operating system, but it's still quite disruptive. Apple probably made the change to make room inside the slimmer iPhone 5, but it has never fully explained the benefits of the new design.

The drawbacks, though, are very obvious, and I don't think Apple could have handled the issue much worse. In fact, Apple's treatment was so poor, I'm thinking of lowering the B+ grade I gave to CEO Tim Cook last month.

The new Lightning dock will force the millions of iPhone users who plug the device into everything from automobile dashboards to home stereo equipment to buy an adapter. Apple could have sold such an adapter cheaply, but instead it's forcing users to spend $29 to $39 on top of $199 for the 16GB iPhone 5 -- an additional 15 percent. IDC's O'Donnell figures the adapter probably doesn't cost Apple more than $5 or so, which means it's making a very nice profit at the users' expense.

Actually, many users (including me) will spend more than $29 because they'll need multiple devices. I plug my iPhone into my Bose SoundDock and my car radio, so I'll need one for each. I'm lucky -- some new car owners won't be able to use the adapter because it's simply too big to fit the dashboard connection. Hello? Are they supposed to get a new car?

If Apple felt the need to change the connector, why not do what many phone manufacturers have done and switch to the MiniUSB connector that the European Union essentially got everyone but Apple to adopt as a standard? Maybe there's a good reason not go that route, but Apple hasn't said. (It didn't reply to my emails asking for an explanation.)

To me, that's just plain arrogance.

I welcome your comments, tips, and suggestions. Post them here (Add a comment) so that all our readers can share them, or reach me at bill@billsnyder.biz. Follow me on Twitter at BSnyderSF.

This article, "When tech innovations bite users in the butt," was originally published by InfoWorld.com. Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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