Opinion

iPhone 7: how the internet reacted to Apple pulling the headphone plug

Apple's changes to the iPhone 7 created social media mayhem this week. Social analyst Brodie Evans breaks down what happened following the announcement.

An eventful week in the world of big tech with Apple announcing they are cutting ties with the 3.5 mini-jack in their new iPhone7, in favour of the proprietary lightning connector and wireless earbuds.brodie evans

The reaction across social media was immediate, fierce and highly emotional. Given just how emotionally-charged the conversation is, you would be forgiven for thinking a different sort of plug was being pulled.

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Across the public social data, we can see almost 1 million posts make up the conversation in the four days since the announcement.

Generating a visualisation of the iPhone conversation in Crimson Hexagon, we see the extent of how the conversation has revolved around the removal of the headphone jack. Already the negative sentiment surrounding this topic is evident with subjects like ‘losing one’ referring to the wireless AirPods that will be released alongside the new iPhone.

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The headphone conversation has eaten into the usual brand-positive conversations focused on the additional features, or the desire to pre-order and all the positive design attributes of the handset.

Although we can see that a smaller portion of the social conversation was still positively giddy over the new jet black colour option, this has played second to the response the removal of the headphone jack elicited.

Adding fuel to the fire was Apple’s Phil Schiller justifying that the tech giant showed “courage” in the removal of the universal plug type, generating around 12,000 posts dedicated to addressing his choice of words. His statement has — not surprisingly — been largely mocked online.

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Factoring the emotional response online is that Apple is simply looking to “extort” both its users and the manufacturers of third party peripherals such as headphones, by forcing them towards its proprietary lightning connector.

Apple’s Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) Program has been running since 2005, originally charging a fee of $10, or 10% per product (whichever was greater) to licence the use of its Apple connector.

This has since been lowered and the new costs are withheld under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) on the MFi page, however Reddit’s Technology subreddits hint that the lightning royalty now sits between $4–8 per product sold.

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An interesting comparison is drawn by comparing the reaction of this announcement to the early 2015 announcement that the next release of new Macbooks would have only a single USB-c port.

This change rendered any regular USB devices unusable without an adaptor plugged in. It was theorised at the time that this was a calculated push to force more dependency on the iCloud service. Similar themes to the iPhone headphone jack conversation are being had now.

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Though the conversation around last year’s Macbook only makes up 1.5% of the iPhone conversation in volume, comparing the two reactions using Crimson Hexagon’s emotional analysis reveals anger as the most dominant emotion across both.

What is interesting is that more personal emotions like disgust, joy and sadness are present in the iPhone7 conversation.

This indicates a closer connection people have to their phone, and potentially a deepening public understanding of the far-reaching implications of Apple removing the universal headphone jack.

Since Apple omitted the DVD optical drive from it’s original Macbook Air back in 2008, the trends have shown that Apple ditching a format leads to the eventual death of that particular format.

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The difference between a MacBook and an iPhone, and the relationship people have to each should be noted here. It leaves a question in the air whether this move towards wireless headphones is the right one, and whether Android, the market-leader for smartphones, will follow suit.

Or will it just be another case of not enough making room for the essentials, with no good reason?

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Brodie Evans is a social analyst at One Small Step Collective

This article originally appeared here and is published with permission

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