The latest rumour around the next iPhone (being called iPhone 5 by most) now includes removal of the 30-pin dock connector, replaced by a micro-USB port instead. Of course, this is still rumour and speculation. As always, we won’t know for sure until the new thing is announced (or someone leaves one behind in a bar again). I am really, really hoping that the 30-pin connector will go away.
The 30-pin cable from Apple is basically just a custom, proprietary USB cable. I took apart one of my older cables (I have a few of the things around), and there was no additional hardware, just wires and the connector. So other than the actual connector, there is nothing remarkable about the cable itself. Apple wouldn’t require custom cables with embedded chips or anything, because none of that exists in the current cable. Yes, the docks and any accessories that access the iPhone contain special hardware (that you have to buy from Apple). but the connector and cable itself is functionally unremarkable.
I would dearly love to see Apple get rid of their proprietary cable, and go to a standard micro-USB. If nothing else, it would mean fewer weird cables on my desk and when I travel. It’s bad enough that I have to have a 30-pin cable (two actually, since I usually have an iPhone and an iPad), along with both a mini-USB and a micro-USB cable for other devices. If I could get all my devices using one connector type, that would help, if only to reduce the clutter.
Going this route would certainly have a benefit for Apple. They save a few pennies on parts (because they would be standard ports on the device and cables in the boxes they ship). It would mean yet another round of docks and accessories that people would buy. And it would free up space on their devices, particularly the iPhone and iPod Touch. It would bring them into line with EU regulation regarding mobile devices. Moving to micro-USB would be a win for Apple.