It was just last year when I pondered: Will Apple bid farewell to disc drives for good? At the time, it was a legitimate question. Even though speculation built that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was, indeed, ditching disc drives in all of its Mac models, it was hard to imagine a Macbook Pro without a disc drive. After all, the laptop was aimed at Apple's power users. In retrospect, however, the decision to eliminate disc drives across all of its Macs seems obvious. Not only are virtually all of the most important applications available as an Internet download, but by removing the now-aged technology, Apple was able to further simplify the design of its laptops.
Now there's a similar question surfacing: Is Apple about to begin ditching headphone jacks?
The headphone jack on the iPhone 7, which will likely be released in the fall of 2016, will be "abolished," reads an English translation of an article on Japanese website Mac Otakara (via MacRumors). An all-in-one Lighting connector will serve as a port for headphones, the Japanese site says. Mac Otakara asserts it has "reliable source" providing this information.
To ease any frustrations for owners of headphones with 3.5mm headphone jacks, the Lighting port will have a digital-to-audio converter, enabling compatibility with the traditional headphone jack when paired with a Lighting adapter, details Mac Otakara.
By eliminating a headphone jack, Apple will be able to make the newest iPhone 1mm thinner than the iPhone 6s, Mac Otakara says.
MacRumors considers Mac Otakara an "often-reliable" source of Apple rumors.
An Apple-like move
It's important to keep in mind that this design streamline is only speculation at this point. And even if Apple is planning on saying goodbye to the headphone jack, the company could change its mind as it gets closer to finalizing the design for iPhone 7.
Still, being the first to get rid of a headphone jack in a quest to simplify design does seem like something Apple would do.
One of the first most controversial pieces of hardware Apple discontinued was the floppy disk, which the company said goodbye to in 1998 with the launch of the iMac G3.
And it was just three years ago when Apple ditched the 30-pin connector in favor of a Lighting connector. It's a gradual change: The company was still phasing out its products that use a 30-pin connector as recently as 2014.
With iPhone sales representing Apple's largest business segment, growing to 63% of the company's revenue in its most recent quarter, investors can bet the tech giant is always looking for every little edge it can find to push the limits with smartphones -- even if it sparks controversy. While a move like this probably wouldn't have any positive impact on Apple's business in the near term, it would at least display to investors that the smartphone maker still has the guts to be the first to trim aging tech -- a characteristic at Apple's core.
It certainly sounds a bit wild to imagine iPhones without a headphone jack. But just as today it seems surprising that Apple was still selling new computers with disc drives in 2014, we could soon be looking back at this move as an obvious Apple-like surgery of yet another aging port.