Apple's Quest to Kill the Dongle

Apple's impressive adapter line-up. Consider this their Most Wanted List.

Apple's impressive adapter line-up. Consider this their Most Wanted List.

Abdel Ibrahim at AppAdvice had an interesting take on what could be Apple's view of the future of dongles:

With the introduction of the new MacBook Pro, Apple has made it clear that it believes that USB-C is the future. Not only are they saying it’s the future for external peripherals like monitors, and external hard drives, but they’ve also abandoned Magsafe, the company’s beloved charging port, in favor of it.

But what most people aren’t realizing is that while Apple is making a record number of dongles and adapters, what they’re doing is trying to kill them off.

He makes a compelling argument. In short, Apple is trying to unify the ports on their Mac lineup. Outside of the MacBook Air and previous generation MacBook Pros, all of Apple's newest notebook models contain USB-C and only USB-C ports. (Yes, I'm ignoring the headphone jack; Apple ignored it on the iPhone 7, so I think I can safely do so here.)

While, in the short term, it might require people to buy adapters and dongles to connect things like SD cards and existing USB peripherals, it also is moving Apple's line to a single, and quite versatile, port. 

If we widen our view, Apple's quest to kill the dongle has been happening for a while. Most recently, Apple's removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 means wireless headphones are a more valuable option. But those headphones would work on more than just the iPhone. And to connect to anything else, you don't need a certain cable or port.

Going back further, Apple's removal of the ethernet port on the previous MacBook Pro models could also be seen as this intention. Wireless is how the majority of users connect their notebooks, even in a work environment. But while wireless was a capable alternative for ethernet in 2012, USB-C was still too early to replace everything else. But in 2016, it's capable of doing it all.

Many may complain about the design of the new MacBook Pro, but I would argue that this is one of the target designs they had wanted to do for many years. And in the end, it'll only be a temporary pain point.