I love gadgets and I realized that I tend to have several cords with me at any given time. On my way to work I realized that although I have many cords, there are only three cords I need to connect to any device/gadget: Mini-USB, Micro-USB, and iPod/iPhone (iCord?). I realize there are other types of cords that are required to connect to some devices but i think most mainstream devices use one of these three cords.
I think this says a lot about the gadget industry today. On the one side, you have the micro-usb and the mini-usb. The mini-usb was first and is on the larger majority of my gadgets such as my digital camera, mini webcam, Bluetooth headphones (stereo), PS3 controllers, Logitech Harmony remote, netbook, wife’s BlackBerry and several others i’m forgetting at the moment. The micro-usb is a very small evolutionary step for the usb connector series as it hardly requires less space on a device but is still progress i suppose. This connector is used for my Droid, portable backup phone charger, and Bluetooth ear piece. I can’t imagine connectors getting much smaller than the micro-usb but i’m sure there will be one more evolutionary shrink before wires are phased out altogether.
Now for the other side of the aisle: Apple’s independent standard. The iCord so to speak is only used for iDevices like iPods and iPhones yet it is found on more consumer-friendly electronics than micro-usb and mini-usb electronics combined (speculation). Alarm clocks are the easiest example of my point since there are virtually no alarm clocks that are made for anything but iDevices by default (some do come with connectors for other devices but marketing is still focused on iDevices). There are several reasons why this is interesting but to avoid a (more) drawn out rant, I’ll move past those reasons for now.
The reason I find this so interesting is that micro and mini usb are not brand specific or at least many brands use the either or both types of connections on their devices yet Apple still has a larger market share than all of those brands combined (again, speculation). It is frustrating to me because a standardized connector would be very economical for everyone but would reduce profits for many 3rd party manufacturers as well as Apple and could also stifle innovation in connector evolution.
At this point the iCord is so prevalent that one can usually be found beside a mini/micro usb cord in any Target/Wal-Mart type store and that’s what really matters. Ease of access is what’s most important to the average consumer which is why the iDevices continue to be more and more successful with each new model. Other standards will always be around but eventually there will be two with such a percentage of the market share that most consumers will forget what the others are. Then, of course, we’ll move beyond cords – most likely to something similar to the new ‘wireless charging pads‘ that transmit electricity through magnetic fields and are apparently safe in any household.
Poll: Which type of connector do you use most often?