Apple's big product launch last week didn't provide all the announcements that business users were hoping for, and it offered one that nobody particularly wanted in the Lightning Connector.
The new iPhone 5 will prove a popular, innovative handset. The smartphone will sell tens of millions of units almost as fast as Apple can produce the new model. Businesses and enterprise organizations, however, likely preferred that Apple announce an additional innovation and, well, maybe omit another.
The Lightning connector
Don't kid yourself. Let's call it what it is. The Lightning connector isn't so much a porting innovation as it is a perfect illustration of how Apple occasionally disrupts accepted standards. Regardless of the inconvenience the "innovation" presents to Apple's customer base, the company has decided it's time to introduce a new standard. Apple's done so before. Witness Thunderbolt replacement of FireWire, the abandonment of an onboard wired Ethernet port in MacBook Airs, and the elimination of optical drives from MacBook Airs and Mac Minis.
In reviewing the many new improvements in the iPhone 5, TechRepublic's Wil Limoges notes that the Lightning port is a "good move on Apple's part." Of course it's a good move on Apple's part. Combined with the new iPhone's physical size, iPhone 5 accessory profits are going to set records.
Businesses, on the other hand, aren't real excited about having to purchase all new adapters, portable chargers, external display connectors, cases and other audio equipment just to enable the new phone to work with countless existing peripherals. In my small business alone, we possess probably 25 iPhone car chargers. They're all going to prove obsolete as old handsets are decommissioned in favor of the newer model. Ancillary sales, of course, are an important component of any company's sales; look for Apple's to skyrocket following the introduction of the Lightning connector.
Apple will justify the new port's necessity on the desire to trim the handset's thickness. Lightning doesn't appear to perform much faster, if at all, than the old 30-pin connector. Were performance improvement a goal of the new 8-pin connector, Apple would have truly innovated and added faster data transfer capacity, such as is achieved with USB 3.0, at least. But according to Limoge's piece, the Lightning connector (unlike Apple's Thunderbolt innovation that really does improve performance by boosting transfer speeds to 10Gbps on two channels) continues using apparently dated USB 2.0 technology with its Lightning to USB cable.
So call me skeptical. Regardless, businesses will find themselves purchasing millions of new peripherals and adapters, that's certain.
Where's the 13" MacBook Pro Retina display?
Apple sells far more 13" laptops than it does larger models. The firm's even bailed on producing its 17" laptop. But currently the Retina display (available on the iPhone, iPad and 15" MacBook Pro) isn't available on arguably the most popular laptop it sells to business: the 13" MacBook Pro.
Businesses like the Retina display. The innovative display is prompting numerous software developers to update applications to take advantage of the greater resolution.
Text is easier to read. Colors are richer. Graphics are sharper. There's less glare than with other models. Those are all important factors for businesses, especially for staff that work with photos, videos, graphics, layouts, printing, marketing, advertising, color reproduction and other common daily tasks.
But don't look for a 13" MacBook Pro with a Retina display. You won't find one. That's an announcement many wished to see when the iPhone 5 was launched.
iPhone 5 effect
Apple faithful need not lose heart. A rising tide lifts all boats, so they say. The axiom will prove true with Apple's iPhone 5.
J.P. Morgan recently reported the iPhone 5 launch could contribute 0.25% to 0.5% "to annualized economic growth in the fourth quarter." That means a single product (the iPhone 5) is suspected to move the nation's GDP by an estimated $3.2 billion according to J.P. Morgan, or almost $13 billion in a year. Such success will lead to additional innovations fans and analysts alike have come to expect from Apple.