apple's iphone5 lightning to micro usb adapter europe.jpg

See this smile? It’s Apple making $100 million in ancillary revenue, all while staying on the right side of European lawmakers.

In Europe, where all SmartPhones are mandated to have the same MicroUSB connector that so many phones in the States and elsewhere have, Apple had a problem on its hands with the new iPhone 5. Turns out that any exemption Apple had for the existing plug on all iDevices stretching back to the very first iPod went out the window when Apple redesigned the plug on the iPhone 5.

They can call it “Lightning”, but it’s still a change. An awful one.

I’m actually less interested in the little microUSB adapter Apple’s selling for about $24 (!) than I am in this new 8-pin Lightning plug that Apple’s put in the iPhone 5, replacing the 30-pin version that’s been in every single iDevice since the first iPod came out in 2003. I get it; the old adapter was too thick for the iPhone 5 design. But . . . really, Apple?

Plugging your new iPhone in is the least of my concerns. Sure, most of us have a few or more of the old plugs laying around and they won’t work with the iPhone 5, but that’s fine, since the iPhone 5 comes with one that strikes Lightning. So as it was when you bought your first iPod, you’ll need to be careful not to misplace your Lightning cord, or you’ll be off to buy a new one.

But what about all the iDevice add-ons you own? Your iPhone 5 won’t work with them, and it’s a pretty good bet that “Lightning” will be getting crammed into everything Apple makes going forward.

I think of my Bose SoundDock speaker set. It has a standard audio-in jack in the back, but this thing was designed to run a iPod (and charge it) through the standard Apple adapter in the front. It cost more than my iPod, it works perfectly, and the next time I need a new iPod it won’t work any more.

And how’d you like to be a hotel that has iPod-able radios in every room?

I’m not going to do one of my “Apple is Evil” rants. And honestly, while I like my gadgets (and from the Apple FanBoy’s perspective I guess the iPhone 5 looks like a sweet gadget upgrade), I’ve always been clear that I don’t jump in unless I’m sure a gadget is worthwhile—and I don’t see the iPhone 5 as especially exciting. You’ve heard me; the iPad is nothing more than an expensive toy (and the Nexus 7 rocks, despite the one big omission Google made—on purpose).

But Lightning? C’mon, Apple, you can do better than this mess. You didn’t really need that extra $100 million, did you?

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