Apple could ditch Lightning port, but should it be allowed to?

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has a reputation for pretty accurate guesses at what Apple is going to do next, and the next prediction is ditching the Lightning port for a ‘wireless experience’.

Although wireless charging is a quirky feature many of the smartphone manufacturers are boasting of, it is far from the norm when it comes to charging a device. It is incredibly useful, but when presented the opportunity to purchase an additional cable or wireless charging unit, most consumers would go for the more traditional means of juicing devices.

However, this is Apple we’re talking about. A company which thrives on being innovative, often forcing the hands of competitors to follow suit. There has been a notable lack of innovation in recent years, though that it not to say the team is not cooking up something to shake the industry.

“Apple will create more differentiation between the highest-end and high- end models,” Kuo’s research note for TF International Securities states, courtesy of MacRumors.

“It will benefit the shipment of the highest-end model and iPhone ASP. Among new 2H21 iPhone models, we expect that the highest-end model would cancel the [Lightning] port and provide the completely wireless experience.”

This might sound exciting, but you have to remember Apple likes to charge a premium and doesn’t play well with others. This is one of the most closed companies on the planet, forcing consumers into its own ecosystem of products and services through incompatibility.

This is where the conundrum lies; should Apple be allowed to do this? As per form with Apple, the smartphone may well only be compatible with official Apple wireless charging units, which like every Apple product, will probably be more expensive than the market average. Without a Lightning port, customers will be forced to purchase additional wireless charging units for (potentially) several different locations. This could become very expensive for the customer, unless they are willing to play battery chicken.

Most consumer watchdogs get twitchy when companies effectively force consumers into spending more money, though the reaction might well depend on the development of the wireless charging market. Will the products be commoditised enough to bring prices down? Or perhaps Apple will start playing nice and ensure the devices are compatible with generic products?

That said, despite the aforementioned concerns, this could be a move towards the much-heralded dream of innovation. The ‘wireless experience’ which Kuo describes is looking like it could be a reality sooner rather than later.

Alongside the Airpods launched in 2016, Apple has also launched its own range of smart speakers and a full-range of smart watches, which of course connect wirelessly, while it has persisted with the development of Siri, its in-house virtual assistant. Add wireless charging into the mix, and it does become a complete the ‘wireless experience’.

This is not innovation on the device per se, wireless charging already exists, but moving into a completely wireless experience is a new status quo. This would almost certainly trigger an industry wide-shift and a new type of digital environment for the consumer.