Nilay Patel on the further disappearance of the headphone jack, and its replacement, Bluetooth:
To improve Bluetooth, platform vendors like Apple and Google are riffing on top of it, and that means they’re building custom solutions. And building custom solutions means they’re taking the opportunity to prioritize their own products, because that is a fair and rational thing for platform vendors to do.
Unfortunately, what is fair and rational for platform vendors isn’t always great for markets, competition, or consumers. And at the end of this road, we will have taken a simple, universal thing that enabled a vibrant market with tons of options for every consumer, and turned it into yet another limited market defined by ecosystem lock-in.
This is exactly what’s happening, and it is turning something simple and straightforward – get headphones, plug it in literally every single piece of headphones-enabled audio equipment made in the last 100 years, and have it work – into an incompatibility nightmare. And this incompatibility nightmare is growing and getting worse, moving beyond just non-standard Bluetooth; you can’t use Apple Music with speakers from Google or Amazon, and Spotify doesn’t work on the Apple Watch.
Removing the headphone jack was a user-hostile move when Apple did it, and it’s still a user-hostile move when Google does it.