iPhone 7 headphone jack removal could discourage teen buyers

September 26, 2016
Justin Hyon  La Canada High School 10th Grade

Justin Hyon
La Canada High School 10th Grade

The long awaited iPhone 7 was finally released on September 7th. On sale on the 16th, the new flagship phone from Apple has improved upon the iPhone 6 in almost every way and introduced many new features. However, it may not be the smash hit that Apple is hoping for to boost their poor recent stock performance. One of their most important groups of buyers, teenagers, is not focusing on the twin camera, new display, or 21-hour battery life. The first thing they see is the lack of a headphone jack. In an effort to monopolize the headphone market, Apple has removed the jack from their new iPhone 7. They have left users with only two options: use wireless headphones or plug them into the charging port. Both options profit Apple, but each has the potential to turn teens away from the product.

Wireless Bluetooth headphones have been on the rise, and Apple controls over 25% of the market. This is an obvious reason why Apple removed the headphone jack. However, Bluetooth headphones are not attractive to many people, particularly teens. Most prefer to use wired headphones. Wireless versions are expensive, must be charged separately from the phone, and generally have poorer sound quality compared to their wired counterparts. One student at La Canada High School also said that they make her paranoid that others can hear her music since she doesn’t have the physical confirmation of having them plugged in. Another student voiced displeasure with wireless headphones because their small size and lack of cords make them very easy to lose. Apple’s new wireless Earpods make this problem even worse. They are extremely small, separate for each ear, and cost $160. Earpods are also notorious for falling out. This and the lack of cords all but guarantee forgetful teens will misplace them. Sales of Bluetooth headphones may not be enough to make up for the inevitable lost customers.

Apple’s solution for this wireless headphone problem is making the charging port double as a headphone port. However, this has two key problems. One, unless you buy a clunky adapter, you can only use Apple’s headphones that plug into the charger port. Since many users dislike Apple sound quality and comfort, they often use other brands of headphones. Forcing these people to now buy an adapter seems like a money making scheme to many potential buyers. Second, you can’t charge your phone and listen to music at the same time. This is seen as a huge disadvantage for many teens. One student said that she has her phone plugged in almost all the time, and not being able to listen to music simultaneously might turn her away from buying the iPhone 7.

The choice to remove the 3.5 mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7 is an uncharacteristic break from Apple’s tradition of user-friendly design, and comes at a time when Apple urgently needs a big boost in sales. Alienating teenage buyers for the sake of revenue seems like a poor decision from an ingenious company, and Apple is gambling for it to pay off.



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  3. Eric Williams

    September 28, 2016 at 3:26 AM

    You said “Forcing these people to now buy an adapter seems like a money making scheme to many potential buyers.” No one is forced to buy an adaptor as one comes in the box.

    This is a non-issue as the phone comes with a lightening to analogue headphone adapter in the box, so everyone can use their existing headphones. Some people will take issue with not being able to charge at the same time, but this is a fringe case. The vast majority will enjoy the advances that digital headsets (wired or otherwise) will bring in the future.

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