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Apple patent points to thinner, high-speed dock connector

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
News Categories: Apple

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A newly granted Apple patent suggests the company is working on a thinner, high-speed dock connector. Entitled “Reduced size multi-pin male plug connector,” the patent describes a dock connector-like plug and receptacle, both of which use any one of a variety of design changes in order to reduce their height in an attempt to accomodate ever-smaller devices; one embodiment also includes a moveable door to protect the contacts. In addition, the patent specifically singles out DisplayPort and USB 3.0 as possible high-speed data communication standards. Interestingly, the patent application was filed just days after Intel first introduced its Light Peak technology, on which the company collaborated with Apple to bring it to market under the name Thunderbolt. As Apple is now shipping its new MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt ports but without USB 3.0, it seems likely that Thunderbolt would supersede DisplayPort and USB 3.0 as the preferred communication standard in any revised dock connector. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area. [via Patently Apple]

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Comments

1

Great - another excuse to make users buy new car chargers and spare cables so they can keep their devices functional.  I’m a big support of most of what Apple has done over the past decade, but a major change like this would cost me over $100 more if I have the same ability to charge on the go (not to mention my $85 battery pack).  In my opinion, cost savings far outweigh the need for faster transfer speeds.

Posted by DJ Renton on April 6, 2011 at 7:51 AM (PDT)

2

“DJ” is right; In fact, we should have stopped at RS-232 serial ports.

grin

Posted by Ben Lawson on April 6, 2011 at 8:06 AM (PDT)

3

Hey, the iPod Classic still exists!  Woo-hoo!

But I agree with DJ—this will render all my Apple universal docks, USB-connectors, power adapters, and car power and stereo adapters useless on future Apple products.

10-1 it will be introduced on the iPhone 5.

Apple Greed at its finest.

Posted by JimmyBobSmith on April 6, 2011 at 9:00 AM (PDT)

4

“Apple Greed”?  Seriously?  The 30-pin dock connector is now eight years old, and is very much due for replacement (though, really, I’d much prefer that it was replaced with a MagSafe-type connector, if that’s even possible).

If neo-luddites like you had their way, we’d all be plugging our iPhones up via serial cable.  We should embrace such changes when they actually bring a real benefit, such as requiring less space or increasing transfer speeds.

Posted by didymos! on April 6, 2011 at 9:42 AM (PDT)

5

This will be implemented for the tenth anniversary of the iPod.  Remember how revolutionary it was that the original iPod used “firewire” to transfer songs.  This would be just as revolutionary as that was.  Perhaps it will be a tenth anniversary iPod that uses Thunderbolt technology and a SSD hard drive and transfer songs and video super fast. Just a theory!!!

Posted by Cody Belcher on April 6, 2011 at 9:53 AM (PDT)

6

While I agree that it will be quite an expense adopting a new connector (especially for those with iPod-integrated cars based on the 30-pin), I also understand that the current design has been around since 2003. It really is time to look into the benefits that can be gained in a new interface. I am very much interested in transfer speed boosts. And the idea of a MagSafe type connector would be awesome! Plus, this is not solely Apple’s greed driving this. They support a massive aftermarket ecosystem. The accessory game for “i” devices is huge. This move helps boost the economy of each of those companies that makes car chargers, stereo docks, and back-up batteries.

Posted by Mitch on April 6, 2011 at 10:29 AM (PDT)

7

Higher speed transfer is definitely a good thing, but I must admit I’m not crazy about the idea of a thinner port to enable thinner devices. The current generation iPod Touch and the previous generation Nano are already so thin they’re almost sharp.

Posted by Jerome on April 6, 2011 at 1:26 PM (PDT)

8

While a smaller connector like this may mean a smaller device, in my opinion it is equally likely (or more likely) to mean the device staying the same size but there being more space available inside for battery or storage.
Apple have been looking into different headphone sockets for this very reason.

As for car connectors, surely a simple adaptor is the answer?
Or as most systems have a USB port then a new lead is the answer? While these may cost £30 from Apple, they cost £2 from ebay. What’s the problem?

An adaptor would easily work for speaker docks too

Posted by Pitmonster on April 6, 2011 at 1:43 PM (PDT)

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