Why MacBook Forcing USB-C Upon Us is a Good Thing

MacBook


Yesterday at Apple’s Spring Forward event, the company unveiled their new MacBook laptop. The new MacBook sports an incredibly thin design, fanless innards, and a beautiful retina display. However, like a hairy mole on the face of a model, the device has only one port, and it’s the mysterious USB-C. The internet has been in an outcry ever since the announcement, with most worried that they won’t be able to plug-in their favorite peripherals. I hear and understand these concerns as they are very valid. However, Apple has a track record of being very smart and strategic in implementing such change. As such, I would argue that there is more to the “why” behind such a drastic change. 

USB technology has been advancing at snail-like speeds. First developed and released in the mid-to-late 90’s, the design of the connector port for the USB has not changed since inception. That’s nearly 20 years without a change to how we connect many of our devices to our computers! In the wake of a world dominated by mobile devices however, this has become a problem as USB ports are relatively bulky in size. Designers could never fit a full-sized USB into a smartphone. However, with the significantly smaller USB-C, this connector could become universal across computers and mobile devices alike creating a much improved unified experience.



Now, to satisfy your older device needs, Apple is releasing a number of dongles and attachments that will allow you to connect antiquated USB devices. Many are claiming this is a profit-grab play by Apple. I disagree. Apple has a track record of seeing the future and heralding (pushing) it across their loyal fan-base leading to mainstream adoption. While Apple will certainly profit from dongle sales, I would argue that their real end-goal is to drive mainstream adoption of USB-C for the betterment of the technology.

Apple MacBook

They’ve Done It Before

This isn’t the first time that Apple has implemented such a strategy either. If you can remember back to the early days of the late 2000s, Apple was often mocked for not supporting Adobe Flash on the iPhone and iPad. Apple was adamant about not supporting it as they saw it as a dying technology that didn’t play well with mobile devices. That testimony was only furthered by Android users complaining of poor battery life and performance caused by the processor intensive Adobe Flash. 

As such, Apple saw HTML5 as the future and supported that within iOS for online interactive experiences on Apple devices. Because of the strength of Apple’s fan-base, this adamancy forced web developers to consider a shift in how they approached developing such online experiences. Fast-forward to today, HTML5 is widely considered the standard, while Flash is considered by most as obsolete. Without Apple making this decision, I would argue that the landscape of the internet would look very different today. The internet is a better place for mobile devices and tablets as a result of Apple’s drastic software choices many years ago.



They’ll Do It Again

Returning back to why Apple is forcing USB-C upon us, they’re making this decision for the same reasons they forced HTML5 upon us years ago. We need an advancement in technological adoption of the connector. When businesses are considering how to develop and design their devices, a primary decision-making factor is ensuring that the experience will be a positive one for the masses. Without a large user-base being impacted negatively when not natively supporting USB-C, it would take substantially longer to get innovators to support the new technology. With the likely success of Apple’s new Macbook, there will be a much greater justification for device creators to consider creating devices in native USB-C. 

In short, by forcing this new technology upon us, they are creating stronger reasons for device creators to adopt the new USB technology. With stronger adoption, Apple and others will be able to create better devices. With better devices, the world will be a better place. That’s all Apple wants. (and crazy amounts of profit of course.) 

What do you think? Is Apple just trying to drive mainstream adoption of USB-C? Or are they trying to profit off us through dongle sales? Let us know in the comments below. 

Ryan Egan

About the author

Ryan is a natural born technology enthusiast. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and has been writing on the topic of technology for over 4 years. He also enjoys sitting in hot-tubs while watching movies on a gorgeous 80 inch flat-screen televisions.

35 comments on “Why MacBook Forcing USB-C Upon Us is a Good Thing”

  1. seanlathrop Reply

    I agree that Apple has a plan much more forward thinking than dongle sales…but the article fails to mention the advantages of the usb-c other than size…if Apple is going out on the limb to change course, aren’t there more perks to it?

    • Ryan Reply

      That’s an excellent point. The purpose of the article was primarily to show Apple’s forward thinking strategies, however the benefits of USB-C are also important.

      Anyone want to chime in on what they think is most revolutionary about USB-C?

    • William Reply

      USB Type-C allows for charging and data usage at the same time. I might be mistaken, but I believe with the adapter that Apple is selling, you can charge the laptop, connect a USB device, and connect to an external monitor/TV via HDMI, all at the same time through just one port.

      Additionally, the port is reversible, so you can’t plug something in the wrong way anymore.

      And, obviously, it allows for thinner devices.

  2. Darr247 Reply

    Sorry, but what’s wrong with USB-B micro, the ubiquitous connector nearly all cell phones now accept for charging (and most for data connections, also)?

  3. Christopher Perrien Reply

    Lovely , lets just trash all our current USB cables and adapters and compatible computer and entertainment equipment and etc. into some landfill and buy all new stuff, because we all must be as rich and a paid corporate/MSM shrill as Mr Egan.

    • Ryan Egan Reply

      Baha you crack me up Chris. Trust me, I wish I was a rich paid corporate shrill, but the reality is we are a startup. My partner and I do this on the side.

      The truth is, this is just my opinion; plain and simple.

  4. David Reply

    Yes, it will be expensive for the switchover to USB C, but it has to be done at some point, and wouldn’t you rather do it sooner than later? The cost will only stagger higher as we wait longer. As far as I know USB-B Micro is still 2.0 standard right? 480mpbs, where as USB-C is going to support 3.1, which is supposed to go up to 10Gbps. We’re outpacing 2.0 as a standard, and honestly this is as good time as any to adopt USB C.

    • Darr247 Reply

      The cord that came with my phone said USB 3.0 on the package and is blue inside the USB A male plug… how much faster than USB 3.0 is USB 3.1?.

      • William Reply

        I believe USB 3.0 has a maximum speed of 4Gb/s while USB 3.1 has a maximum speed of 10Gb/s.

  5. Matthew Ziegler Reply

    Alright so I’m going to charge my laptop and have a second display, oh I can’t do that without buying an expensive adapter? That’s okay, I’ll just watch movies stored on my Drobo on my laptop display with it’s lightning adapter. Oh I can’t do that either anymore? Well being able to do basic functions on a mac is very important, so buying a bunch of new hardware, cables, and adapters is just fine. Like the other apple ports lasted long enough to invest lots of money buying peripherals right?

    • William Reply

      I agree that it would have been nice of Apple to include at least two USB Type-C ports. However, there’s a reason they didn’t call this a MacBook Pro; this slots below the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air in terms of performance.

      This laptop isn’t designed for people who have Drobos and use second displays frequently. Or for people who need to do 4K video editing. This is designed for people who need a (nice looking) laptop for basic tasks. For those people, one port will be fine 99% of the time. Will they need an adapter to make a presentation or connect an external drive? Sure. Will that be annoying? Sure. But as it is, if you want to make a presentation with your laptop, you often need an adapter. And as other manufacturers release USB Type-C computers later this year and the years going forward, there will be more USB Type-C peripherals as well. For power users that need a powerful laptop, the MacBook Pro line will fit those needs better.

      I have an 11-inch MacBook Air that I use for basic tasks when I travel; if I didn’t already have that, the new MacBook is something I would consider purchasing. It’s thin, light, and is more than sufficient for web browsing, word processing, and watching videos.

  6. Michael Oghia (Ogie) Reply

    I think it would be a lot easier to swallow if 1. They had included 2 USB-C ports so that you can at least charge and connect a device at the same time (e.g., if I want to watch a movie from an external HD and my battery is low, I won’t be able to). It’s not like this technology will become ubiquitous overnight. Innovating while also being sensitive to the existing technological ecosystem (in terms of hardware, which is a lot more expensive to upgrade and harder than just an over-the-air update) is a very thin line. Also, both the Firewire AND thunderbolt standards they created are being discarded with this MacBook. While they have the ability to do this as it is their standard, people who have invested in these standards and have come to rely on them are being disregarded.

    Thankfully, they upgraded and are still offering the MacBook Pro line. I’m happy to see that, as well as the fact that there are still many options in terms of necessary system requirements to fulfill the needs of many different users.

    • William Reply

      Two USB Type-C ports definitely would have been nice. But you can charge and connect external devices at the same time; unfortunately, you need an adapter, but it can be done.

        • William Reply

          Yeah, it is annoying. I might be mistaken, but I’m fairly certain you can (with the adapter) charge the MacBook, connect a USB peripheral, and connect an HDMI device, all at the same time.

  7. Paul D. Adams Reply

    That it will increase profits for Apple (and other 3rd-party vendors) is not to say this is the effective cause or reason for Apple introducing the USB-C. Clearly this is a false cause as basic logic goes. Moreover, exactly how much profit could it generate for a company with almost a trillion bucks in the bank? Really!?

    • William Reply

      Firstly, Apple did not “introduce” USB Type-C; it also did not invent USB Type-C nor does it have exclusive rights to it. Secondly, Apple has nowhere near “a trillion bucks in the bank”. I believe it currently has somewhere around $178 billion in cash, which is a tremendous amount of money, but nowhere near a trillion.

  8. JGTinNJ Reply

    The USB connector was poorly designed from the day it was introduced. We already had for many years vehicle ignition keys that would work in either orientation, but that advance escaped the promoters. My only beef with USB-C is that it still is too big.

    This change will take a while. I am usually not an Apple fan, but I am glad this time around. My next laptop though will be a Lenovo, one that is thick enough to still have a VGA outlet, because I do run into projection equipment that requires it. So it is for everything else – if in your experience you find you need different ports don’t buy this product.

  9. JGTinNJ Reply

    Shocking that Apple can get away with doing this. Maybe there should be a law – all laptops and tablets should have parallel ports for printers and floppy disk readers for removable data storage too. Forcing new technology on us is just a device to make more profit by planning to make some things obsolete and charging us for new replacements.

  10. William Reply

    “My only beef with USB-C is that it still is too big.”

    I could have my numbers incorrect, but a micro-USB port is 7mm x 1.85mm and a USB Type-C port is 8.4mm x 2.6mm. Bigger, sure, but considering all that it can do (simultaneous power, data, and video), it’s not THAT much bigger than micro-USB.

  11. De Brown Reply

    Someone beat me to it, “Forcing new technology on us is just a device to make more profit by planning to make some things obsolete and charging us for new replacements.” This is Apple’s long term revenue plan. Obsolete hardware that is still in good working condition, and a good example is dropping support for Java on older Macs. You can hack your way through an unsupported install, but it is really not worth the effort because eventually apps running on the Mac will no longer support you (why should they, Apple doesn’t). The same age Windows system is running Java just fine. However, the real problem is, good technology is being scrapped sooner than it need be, which is a waste of natural resources. If every company operated this way there would be a race to see who could hijack the needed supply of raw material to ensure future product cycles. The greed that has been embraced by Apple is disturbing.

    • William Reply

      All the other computer manufacturers will be coming out with computers with USB Type-C within the next year. Apple is not the only one adopting USB Type-C.

  12. joe Reply

    As an ex-employee of Apple I resent yet another supposed advancement in “speeding” things up. This is another money grab period. Since Jobs died the flare of innovation has dwindled into glowing embers. I am being forced to give up technology that works fine for me on many fronts – Aperture being not supported along with not being to upgrade out of Snow Leopard OS since my early Intel processor architecture won’t support Yosemite. I was already looking at how I’m supposed to convert all my firewire drives to Thunderbolt and now they just jump ahead again. This is the same reason I got away from the Ipad and use a Surface Pro 3. Because I can put a micro SD card directly into it along with a USB connector. Plus I don’t have to deal with Itunes as my portal for everything. Apple has been slowly but surely dumbing down who it caters to and this is another example . Go Lenovo. Save your money.

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