Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Apple cuts USB-C adapter prices in response to MacBook Pro complaints (theverge.com)
42 points by uptown on Nov 4, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

We want to help them move to the latest technology and peripherals, as well as accelerate the growth of this new ecosystem.

So just build laptops with some USB-C ports, so we can buy new things with USB-C and keep using our old things.

Dongles. What a circus.

If they released a computer with two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports, every device manufacturer would continue to release all of their products for USB-A only and say "We've chosen to build our products to be compatible with all the old computers, you can use those USB-A ports for our products and the USB-C ports for somebody else's."

And then 5 years later, nobody's adopted USB-C yet because every computer still has USB-A ports and every accessory manufacturer wants to be as compatible as possible.

Apple is betting that the short-term inconvenience of a few dongles is worth it in order to force every accessory manufacturer to jump on the USB-C train immediately. I can't say I disagree with them.

Quite the contrary. Apple has delusions of grandeur if it thinks it can change an entire industry with a less than 10% market share.

But they do. They removed optical drives and RJ45 jacks from their laptops. Most new laptops don't have these anymore.

Some competing models already just have USB Type C ports.

And the original iMac, which dropped all the old printer/keyboard/mouse/serial/SCSI/whatever connectors in favor of USB and FireWire.

Psssh, USB. Like that'll ever catch on... And Apple was a tiiiiny fraction of the market then compared to what they are now.

Anybody remember all the PS/2 to USB dongles? We got over it.

Optical drives didn't go extinct because Apple removed them, but because USB sticks were much more useful. RJ45 went extinct because everyone uses Wifi.

In both cases Apple didn't set a trend, it was inevitable.

But a USB-A mouse works perfectly, just like a wired headphone. There is not a clear advantage here.

Other manufacturers dropped them not because of apple though but because they were no longer needed.

Would placing only 1 USB-A port help at all in your opinion? Make it a bit tougher to use older products?

Not everyone uses USB ports on a regular basis (can't recall the last time my wife did on her Pro) and even fewer people would use more than one. So I'm inclined to think including even one USB-A port would significantly impact adoption of USB-C by third parties.

Hard to say how that would play out, but I wouldn't want the computer I'm going to be carrying around for the next 5 years to be thicker just to include a port that will hopefully be out of use within 1-2 years.

In the short term, my main desire for an A port would be for wireless mouse dongles or other people's flash drives. But I mostly switched to a bluetooth laptop mouse already, so I'm not sweating the mice. For my own flash drive, you can get one that supports both ports, but other people won't necessarily have one.

I think I'd still rather carry around an adapter for the short term and be able to transition completely off of USB-A when I no longer need it.

I personally don't care how thick my professional laptop is. I'd rather have a 12-hour battery, 32GB RAM, two DisplayPorts, a few TB3 ports, serial, network, audio in/out (+toslink), and 4-6 USB ports. I guess I want the Thinkpad P70, but I want it to run macOS, and not have a terrible track pad. There is currently no option for this. The Mac Pro used to be cool, and they could update it to make it great again. I'm not sure why they don't invest at all into the pro market. People have been saying this now for about 5 years, and Apple would obviously rather sell luxury consumer "lifestyle" laptops than serious professional tools.

It's not that I'm against thin-and-light, I just see that as fitting the needs of e.g. PMs and managers, and the MacBook / Air filled that need nicely. Now they've gone and made the mbp into the air, thinking that's what everyone wants and needs.

It's basically my dream laptop on account of the screen: wide gamut, variable refresh rate, great brightness and contrast. In the regard it's way nicer than the Air (which is what I have now). But I do any heavy lifting tasks on a (cheaper + Windows) desktop with an i7 and 32 GB of RAM, so my laptop doesn't need to be the beefiest machine in existence. Nor do I run piles of VMs or huge deep learning datasets. IMO it's a computer more for artists than it is for programmers, and that's driving a lot of the negativity about it on HN. We're mostly programmers on here.

On the USB-C note, I'm curious what happens to the Mac Pro now. They're pushing USB-C as the new standard for pro accessories, and yet the Mac Pro doesn't support it. As if being 3 years old wasn't bad enough, now it's 3 years old and has the wrong ports.

Here's hoping for an "Our bad, the new Mac Pro has USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, upgradeable GPUs and multiple drive bays," but I'm not holding my breath.

Am I the only programmer that uses tmux and vim with old fashioned makefile? I still need a serial port to talk with hardware but a simple usb dongle works. I remember people complain almost 15 years ago that apple didn't have a serial port on their laptops. Its funny that windows itself became the biggest problem for serial.

My problem is Apple doesn't even sell an iOS device that comes with a USB C to Lightning cable. How the hell am I supposed to use Safari's web inspector, or record the screen, or profile my app?

Sure, I can buy another cable, but I feel like Apple should be swapping out Lighting<->USB A cables with the USB C equivilient for free.

They probably won't do that for a couple of years until USB-C is firmly entrenched. Most iPhone customers aren't using Macbooks.

Am I unusual in never plugging my iPhone into my computer to begin with? Contacts/Calendar/Notes/Email/Backups all sync via iCloud, and even if you're still using iTunes to manage your music library (instead of one of the streaming services), that syncs over wifi.

I've got a phone charger in my bedroom and one in my bag and those are the only things it ever gets connected to.

Who cares what the other end of the cable is shaped like as long as it's the same kind as your charger?

Adding on to this, the one scenario where it matters is if you buy a new USB-C to Lightning cable, that lets you travel with just the MBP's USB-C power brick. To charge the computer you plug it in. To charge the phone you plug it in. To charge both you plug the computer in and then plug the phone into the computer, since it's all the same port.

If you still had USB-A on the computer, you could potentially have traveled with only a laptop power supply, and then charged the phone via the laptop ports with the original cable. But I don't know anyone who travels without a phone charger thinking "eh, I'll just plug this into my computer to charge instead."

Never thought of that, that's actually very cool.

I was thinking the same thing, I can't even remember the last time I plugged a phone into a computer. Even if you need to charge it, you're better off plugging it into the wall unless you have a lot of time to kill.

Not true. If you plug an iPhone into a recent Mac that is powered on, the Mac will often deliver more current than the iPhone wall charger will output. As a test, with my phone plugged into the computer, the Mac is delivering 2.1A over USB to the phone.

Source: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204377

Thanks, I stand corrected.

Nope. I'm sure the vast majority of iPhone customers never plug in their iPhones into a computer, which probably explains why they haven't bothered.

Isn't it a hallmark of Apple that all of their stuff usually works together though?

Or shipping iOS devices w/ USB A-C adapter.

What the hell is going on over there?

1. Did they honestly think no one would balk at the prices?

2. I feel like they're reacting to every single wave of criticism over these last couple years, and instead of making me feel good, it makes me feel like none of the execs have any idea what they're doing. Kinda would prefer they stuck to their guns about having 10000% margins on their accessories.

This move and Phil Schiller's justification of the compromises of the Macbook (https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/02/phil-schiller-justifies-th...) seem uncharacteristic of Apple. Perhaps they are realizing they have made mistakes?

While saving $30 sounds nice, it is not the biggest issue here. Historically Mac users have sacrificed cost for usability and elegance. Apple seems to be suggesting the opposite is now a better idea?

Right now, my $1,000 2012 Air has a charger, usb keyboard, usb phone charger, and a usb conference mic plugged into it. I don't even want to imagine carrying around the number of dongles that would allow me to do the same on a 2017 Pro machine.

Historically, Apple has always dropped declining tech, even if they were at their prime. See also Floppy Disks, dedicated keyboard/mouse ports, Firewire. This is not the issue.

Using dongles is also not the issue. Having a versatile port is a good thing.

The issue is that they seem to be neglecting common use cases in their own platform. As in, you cannot plug an iPhone to their own computer, not even to charge it. This is inexcusable. At the very least, they've lost control of timing (if the next iphone happens to have a USB-C port).

> Right now, my $1,000 2012 Air has a charger, usb keyboard, usb phone charger, and a usb conference mic plugged into it. I don't even want to imagine carrying around the number of dongles that would allow me to do the same on a 2017 Pro machine.

A single USB-C port can replace all that and more, you can also carry power and video. There's no reason why those can't be provided by a single "dongle". Which would actually be more convenient to carry around.

Would it have killed Apple to include a USB-C to USB3 dongle? I can't believe their margins are that thin.

> you cannot plug an iPhone to their own computer, not even to charge it

Am I just confused? A USB-C to lightning cable connects an iPhone to a new mac without a dongle, no? It's just a different cable than before.

It's not you that is confused.

Maybe they have data to suggest that plugging an iPhone into your computer isn't a very common use case anymore. I personally haven't plugged my iPhone 6 into my computer more than once or twice since I got it two years ago. With iCloud backups I now just drop my phone on a dock or plug directly into the wall on a daily basis. Even at my desk at work I use a dock thats plugged into the wall vs. my computer. I don't want iTunes popping up, scanning my phone etc etc. every time I return to my desk and plug my phone in.

Judging by the external keyboard, is it safe to say this is a desk setup where everything but the laptop usually stays there? In such cases it's smarter to just have those things (and displays too) plugged into a USB Type-C hub/dock which only requires you to plug in a single cable when you come and go. Your current setup already requires you do (dis)connect four different cables every time you move, so you can't exactly defend it as more elegant.

Is it elegant when your MBP that you'll keep for 4-6 years has USB-A ports you won't use anymore after two years? If Apple put in 2 USB-A and 2 USB-C, half the ports would probably be useless for the majority of the computer's lifespan.

> you won't use anymore after two years?

Probably more like 5 years at best.

Removing all USB-A ports would have been a bold move in 2018, but in 2016 it's delusional.

Apple's idea of elegance has always been the same. Do you think it was always convenient to not have a floppy drive? It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when the floppy was as important as an SD drive or a USB port.

The upgrade from floppy to optical only, or optical to bigger hard drives and SSDs and fast WiFi, are leaps in capability that don't even compare to the marginal gain of USB-C over USB3/Thunderbolt 2... especially when that "upgrade" is paired with the number of ports on an entry-level MBP dropping from 7 to 2 (not counting audio, which thankfully survived).

With only 2 ports, you need a ridiculous number of big dongles or hubs to get serious work done, and any pro user with >1 external HD, display, or gigabit wired is rightfully wondering what the hell Apple was thinking.

> you need a ridiculous number of big dongles or hubs to get serious work done

Wouldn't having a single multi-port hub actually be superior? Instead of a bunch of cables connecting your laptop to multiple different devices you have one cable to the hub. Much easier to get up and move with.

As of right now, the USB-C hub situation is actually pretty dire, as in the only all-in-one solutions are $100+, or not yet released [1] [2]. My past experience with non-powered USB hubs has taught me they're pretty hit-or-miss with a new device, so I don't see how cramming audio, video, and pass-thru power into them is going to help that situation.

See the first five minutes of this video [3], which actually involves Apple's "Digital AV Multiport" adapter, to see the near-term experience of "dongle hell."

[1]: http://www.bourgedesign.com/

[2]: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/11/03/owc-debuts-13-port-thund...

[3]: https://vimeo.com/189525997

Optical audio did not survive, though.

Nobody used floppy drives or optical ones when Apple removed them.

Most people still use USB-A accessories.

See the difference?

People still used floppies in 1998. USB keys didn't exist at the time and nobody was going to waste a whole burnable CD for a document or a CS assignment.

See the similarities?

Yes, but IIRC in 1998 it was pretty clear floppy disks were on their way out. I had my first PC with an optical drive around 1994 and there was no question that was the way of the future.

Mice and keyboards work perfectly well on a USB-A connection, there is really no need to force everyone to buy dongles or to upgrade all your peripherals to USB-C.

Floppy disks weren't replaced by burnable CDs, they were replaced by USB drives which didn't exist in 1994 or 1998. So the question of what was the way of the future wasn't even known when Apple removed the floppy drive.

In fact there is some parallel here; we all know that USB-C is the way of the future. Every phone, every laptop, every desktop will eventually have these ports for everything. It will replace every proprietary DC power plug. But right now, just like it was in 1998, the future isn't quite here yet.

People very much used CDs and DVDs when they removed them. The Air was widely mocked for it.

I didn't. The superdrive on my MBP 2007 died pretty fast and I never missed it. When I bought my 2011 MBP I removed the superdrive and installed a second hard drive.

And that was just one model, the Air. If you wanted an optical drive you could buy a white macbook or a MBP. Now there are no options.

I think you are confusing "you" with "everyone". It's a common mistake.

Maybe, but you missed the second part of the statement which was the most important.

You could probably do this with a single multi function adapter.

Right now I have a few DVI-thunderbolt dongles and they are ugly.

If the new ports are about elegance, I wish Apple made dongles with long cables, so as to hide the adapter part.

Apple again missing the point. It's not about the money, but about having to deal with dongles and adapters.

> Through the end of the year

better than nothing I guess.

Can only imagine what the cost to make these is. $1? Can't imagine a lot of engineering went into them.

Go figure that it's not retroactive. Gotta get that early adopter/purchaser tax somehow...

Applications are open for YC Winter 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact