Posted 22nd September 2016 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

By nature, we  humans are a conservative lot (with a small "c"). We tend to be fairly resistant to change, we don't like the order of our world to be disturbed and we feel comfortable when our cozy world is in stasis. So when change rears its ugly head, we react strongly, often ignoring the reasoning that has led to the change.


A great case in point is the launch of Apple's iPhone 7. There's not been a more advanced, more sophisticated or elegant phone come to market. Its slim lines and light weight make it an object of desire but, wait a minute! There's no headphone jack. No! Headphone! Jack! How can this be? Headphone jacks have been a part of our lives for ever, for every one of us. And Apple has taken them away.

What's more, Apple has history of doing this - the wreckers of our comfort zone! They were the first to dispense with the floppy drive from a laptop computer. Sorry, you don't know what a floppy drive is? Oh, well computers used to have them for data storage and transfer but then they became a bit tricky to use and took up a lot of space and then Apple got rid of them. You don't see them on anyone else's machines now, mind you. I suppose they've had their day.

Then, there was the CD/DVD drive - they did the same with that. The world went mad. I mean, how can I import my CDs now - I have to buy an external drive. Mind you, not that I use CDs now because all my music is in the Cloud, but still, it was a big blow when that went. Sorry, you don't know what CDs are? Ah yes, but of course no one uses them now do they?

Don't forget Apple was at their usual tricks only little while ago when they got rid of the iPod/iPhone charger connector and replaced it with that tiny little plug. We all had to buy converters then - what a disaster! Yeah, I know they connect to all the kit from Apple now, but still, why do it? Yeah, I know they were able to make the phone thinner and everything, but still. Oh, you mean other manufacturers are putting small power connectors on their phones too? I suppose they have to if they want to make everything lighter and thinner.

But where will it end?

The truth is, it won't end. Change will always be with us because what was useful in 1878 (the earliest recorded jack plug - yes, seriously) is likely to have been superseded in 2016, 2020 and 2050. There's always a compromise between what was and what is to come.

Can you imagine what laptops would be like if we'd kept all the old connectors (serial bus, VGA, that big socket with 24 pins, the huge printer connector, etc), floppy drive, CD/DVD drive, power plugs and so on? Can you see elegance in something having all of this? Everything comes to the end of its natural life and for some manufacturers, it's harder than for others to let go of the old ways.

The truth is that the paradigm of computing has moved away from the physical to the virtual. We no longer store physically and locally. We no longer connect physically. We transact virtually and keep "our" music, movies and TV shows in the Cloud. Why the inverted commas around "our"? It's because there is no "my music". It's my right to listen to music that I have bought and it doesn't need a physical thing on which to store it, locally. Nothing is there to hold in my hand.

So, if this is the future, where will it take us next? Who knows? You can be sure that our devices will get smarter, more interconnected and simpler. Our lives will become ever more enmeshed in the online world. And the old devices and old ways will become museum pieces - exactly where they deserve to be. And, by the way, if one of the drawers in your house looks like our illustration above, why haven't you thrown it all out? I know.

In case you need it.

Nick Evans from ExtraMile.


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