For a company as forward-thinking as Apple has been in the mobile world, it still depends on a relic of its pre-iOS days as the primary connection for charging iPhones and iPads. But now that Apple can update its iOS devices over wireless networks, the 30-pin connector may have run its course.
iMore.com reported Friday that Apple (s aapl) will likely get rid of the 30-pin connector in the next version of the iPhone in favor of something smaller that could help it accommodate 4G LTE radios, and it’s about time. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t think Apple will follow the lead of the rest of the smartphone market and embrace the micro USB standard for phone chargers, but it’s still a notable development.
The 30-pin dock connector has been the primary doorway into the iPod for years. It was the only way to install software updates on an iPhone or iPad until iOS 5 introduced over-the-air updates, and an easy target for those who believed Apple wasn’t living up to its “post-PC” words by requiring a physical connection to a computer for such an important task.
Eliminating the (relatively) bulky connector could make it easier for Apple to include 4G wireless connections in the next iPhone without having to make an iPhone as big as some of the Android(s goog) models (like the Galaxy Nexus) that connect to 4G networks. It also means a legion of accessory makers will have to get on board with a new standard on which Apple will probably continue to charge royalties to use in their products. The success of an iPhone accessory maker like Square that bypassed the 30-pin connector altogether with its credit-card reader may have also prompted Apple to come up with a new connector that offers unique advantages.
But to take things a step further, is Apple also willing to embrace wireless charging with the next iPhone, along the lines of what Palm introduced for certain models of the Pre? That might force the company to make some tough decisions about the materials it uses in the iPhone, a notoriously sensitive subject. But wireless charging is a great idea for users, and it would also allow Apple to sell some sleek wireless charging stations at a tidy profit.