USB-C: The Right Move, But Only In The Right Way


Apple has come in for a lot of criticism over its switch from regular USB 3.0 ports using the Type A connector to USB 3.1 ports using the Type C connector and whilst the criticism is valid, it's only so if you understand why Apple hasn't served its customers well by the way it has made the switch.

First of, for a device that is designed to be thin and light above everything else discarding all legacy ports and switching to USB-C  is absolutely the right move. Anyone buying a MacBook is doing so because they are prepared to make sacrifices in order to have the most portable laptop possible. Other ultra-mobile devices adopt the same approach.

In this case the new connector provides a standard power connector which can also be used with a dock or dongle when required to provide access to all the legacy ports that are sometimes required. As an ultraportable machine it's a fair trade off.

On a machine which is aimed at power users and does not trade on portability as its main selling point abandoning legacy ports for USB-C is a clumsy way of saying to customers 'we will dictate what you use and how'.  Even throwing a boat load of ports at the problem doesn't make for much of a solution.

Yes it certainly future proofs the MBP, given that the switch to the new connector is picking up pace, especially on smartphones.  The cost is that users buying the machine today have to pack a bag full of dongles to make any legacy equipment work. Had Apple mixed USB-A and USB-C ports on the MBP it would have made the machine a much better option, both now and in the future.

It seems odd to be dinging Apple for supporting an emerging standard, as I'm glad that Apple has chosen to work well with others - not something that is guaranteed when we're talking about new Apple products.

The way in which it has been done really doesn't benefit anyone, except perhaps dongle and accessory makers, who will have a field day shipping fixes for Apples indulgence.

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