Apple: still dicks.

This hotel must be so happy that they bought hundreds of these iPhone-dock clock radios that only functioned with non-obsolete phones during, like, 8 months of 2010.

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28 Responses:

  1. John Bloom says:

    So the situation is basically that if you have an Android device you will not be "docking" your device to pretty much any set of speakers because although most Android phones have a micro USB port for charging and a 3.5mm jack for audio there is no standard for where on the phone those ports are and so (almost) no one bothers to make music docks for them.

    On the other hand if you have a iDevice there are a ton of music docks available but you have like a 1 in 6 chance of that dock working directly with your device and maybe a 1 in 3 chance of it working with a little stack of adapters.

    To summarize: this is not the future I was promised.

    • phuzz says:

      I'm trying to work out what's worse, owning and an Android phone and at least knowing up front that you're not going to be able to dock it anywhere, or owning an iOS device and having it sometimes not work, with no real way of knowing in advance.

  2. hirni says:

    IMHO - those audio-devices with integrated docks are just a FAIL.
    with my iphone-1 (!yes! 1) - in a hard-plastic case - none of those docks fit.
    (and I won't take it out just for that)
    So if those audio-guys would have learned anything from apple's
    dock-connector-mess - they would support bluetooth and/or USB.
    (doesn't cost you any royalties for the dock-connector)
    and with bluetooth - most newer devs should work (i-devs and android).
    (even my new car has now BT-support for phone AND media-playback)
    And for charging - you could just provide a standard USB port,
    as you anyways will have such a cord with you...

    So from a prod-mgmt or marketing point - I seem to miss here something ...
    what's exactly (for an audio-dev manufacturer) the motivation to put such an apple-dock into the device in the first place ? - instead of USB and/or BT for example ?

    • Nick Lamb says:

      Brands matter. They don't matter to me, or to you probably, but they matter to so many people that "has an iPod dock" was a really big deal in a way that "you can connect a USB device" never was.

      Also doing this was very, very cheap. The mechanism you're describing, like the one connector solution for Android (the dock acts as a USB host, prods the Android device and gets PCM data out over USB) requires that they either buy another chip or hire somebody who knows what they're doing. Adding an iPod dock just means a bit of half-arsed 3D design and a couple of wires. That makes an iPod dock a low risk change to boost a product's popularity and potentially make a few dollars.

      • Apple made a specification for where the damn port would be. It was a terrible specification that involved having injection-molded inserts for every single model of ipod/phone ever made, but regardless: it was there. There would be the same 30-pin connector on the bottom edge of a device that would (probably) be no more than 6cm wide and 8mm deep. Every time. (Mostly.)

        Whereas with android/winmo devices, it's a nonstop game of "guess where they hid the USB port today." (Sometimes it's on the side, underneath a rubber plug, so that's awesome.) Hard to blame the accessory makers for shrugging their shoulders.

        Of course, Apple gleefully threw away the "simple and cheap" part of the equation with the conversion to the lightning port: a classic case of killing the goose. (Want HDMI video out from a lightning port? A "simple" matter of putting a SoC into your cable and the submitting the design to Apple for approval. Watch everybody rush in to not ever do that!)

        • gryazi says:

          re: active cables, I think this might be what Tim Cook is bringing to Apple, actually.

          Which means a company that's good at bringing something that seems ridiculously over-the-top and ahead-of-the-curve out a couple months before 'the curve' on [choose your law of approaching-the-Singularity scaling here] is reached, but after the costs of production are actually locked in with an advantage to Apple.

          So you get your surprise $60 cable that isn't all that much different in actual complexity from your $5 Displayport-to-DVI cable, and Apple gets to reel in a very significant $early_adopter before the price quietly starts falling towards $actual_impending_market_reality 90 days later.

          Whether you were actually clamoring for this, like a 'really thin' iMac to help soften the fact that the design's probably been tidied and cost-reduced in the process on the way to an iteration providing something the designer types can actually tilt and use like a Cintiq*, probably to be 'covered for' by some sort of munging of the merge of the Mac and iOS product lines because I suspect there is still some kind of weird fear or distaste at the idea of risking Wacom's support and/or putting-everyone's-friends-over-there out of work when "it's arty" is how Apple survived the dark days.

          This is a little different from prior iterations of Apple, which tended to target the "bringing something that seems ridiculously over-the-top and ahead-of-the-curve" while forgetting the "when the supply-chain is already locked in to guarantee your cost of R&D and tooling is probably covered by your profit on the first day of sales."

          See also Apple as the dumping ground for obviously-viable technologies that Intel poured all its money into developing and tooling for only to be rejected in the broader market for sociopolitical reasons ('no, we're not going to agree to put something other than USB in the USB connector even if USB probably is really sort of vaguely doomed').

          *It's going to get pretty embarrassing if they don't do this soon, considering MS has done a wonderful job of convincing manufacturers to cram absolutely giant capacitative-touch displays into tons of desktops helpfully-for-Apple utterly lacking the ergonomics to tilt back and draw on them because all we're going to do is produce 15 seconds of feel-good swiping for the commercial with them, right?

          • gryazi says:

            I left out the part where: Look what's up with HDMI and active cables this year. It turns out we've literally hit a point where silicon is cheaper than copper.

            • Adolf Osborne says:

              New math?

              Monoprice 6' HDMI cable: $3.50 (pick a color).
              Monoprice 6' active HDMI cable: $13.91.

          • I will happily put down $20 that if the time comes that they see a market in it, Apple will burn Wacom without a second's thought about it in the executive chambers. Or anywhere else, really. Anyone who hasn't gotten the message about Apple's complete lack of nostalgic attachment to their former base in the pro/proam art markets hasn't been paying attention to any of their product decisions for the last five years minimum.

          • and ps. it very much remains to be seen whether Lightning is a case of Apple skating to where the puck is going to be (USB, cd-r, itunes) or one of their more-regular-than-people-recall faceplants (firewire, thunderbolt). If the rumors about the soft demand for the iPhone 5 turn out to be true, I'm laying a lot of that at lightning's feet: upgrading to the 5 basically requires a combination of throwing out every accessory you own (some of which have no obvious replacement at hand) and buying a fistful of $20-a-pop adaptors and cables. I suspect a lot of people took a hard look at that mess and decided to hold on to their 4/4S until the buy-in price on the lightning ecosystem comes down significantly. (Which is going to take months if not years with Apple holding much more tightly onto the licenses and certifications.) This was perhaps not the smartest move that Apple could have made with Samsung breathing down their necks.

            • gryazi says:

              Well, I was referring to Thunderbolt, I don't think it's really a flop so much as a "the only company producing an All-in-One that's expensive enough that you'd bother to expand it rather than chucking it and buying next year's model is named after a fruit that starts with A."

              eSATA would've been almost-just-as-good, but I suspect the Pixar-y crowd actually needs PCI-e-in-a-box for something. Elsewise it's just a lifeline for "in 5 years if the HDD isn't actively emitting smoke you will be able to bodge on something to keep going just in time for us to drop OS support for your model for some other stupid reason."

              Lightning is not actually a big deal because it's just a goddamn cellphone connector and the alternative is still microUSB + what? The stupidity is that I guess they aren't offering a 'shaped like the ass of an iPhone 4' adapter to drop into each and every of your dock devices to not cause this hilarity with the dock ecosystem instead of selling infinitely more adapters at infinite markup?

              But in the end this means you're just gonna take your craptastic stereo and leave some used iPod docked into it as a control panel / WiFi streaming adapter and "docks" will probably look as futuristic as "Bondi Blue" in 3 years now that decent wireless-everything is getting cheap. They screwed everyone again and shot their food but it's not going to particularly hurt them. (Same thing with the 'creatives' market - it's been safe to ignore them because after the 1990s attrition there remains a dense mass of them that still will just not touch Windows for fashion or fear [or politics]; it'll take someone else's Apple = Fingerpainting, Rest of Planet = Pressure-sensitive Styli ad to kick them into gear, but the pressure-sensitive stylus product actually already exists as a 3rd-party weird Bluetooth-for-pressure touchscreen-for-position peripheral and there's just no reason to blow the cash on an acquisition until it becomes an issue.)

              Also fuck playing armchair Apple analyst. With the Monoprice cables, though - the RETAIL PRICE of the active cable is $13, because active equalization/skinny cable is a "feature"... now look on a store shelf in the world of people-dumb-or-desperate-enough-to-shop-in-stores and you'll see that actives are rapidly replacing the likes of Monster's old stock at only the same $Monster 800% markup. New Hotness _without_ price increase tends to indicate there's been a serious savings upstream, possibly including the weight expense of shipping the crap from China to here. (Although I was also appreciative that Target actually had a 3 pack of no-name plain cables at $Sane when I needed them in an 'emergency' over the holidays, so it'll probably take like a whole 12 months or more for people to clear out the glut of inventory of stuff that was already built and exists in someone's warehouse ready for sale.)

              I want you to know that I'm only doing this because the alternative is actually performing my actual job. :peonface:

  3. Phil says:

    * Ahem *

    It quite clearly says “iPod” on top of the case.

  4. Tim says:

    The dock is trying to charge over the firewire power pins, which iphones have never supported (and ipods neither for several years). This dock has been obsolete since 2007. Either they've had them for 5-6 years, or they got them on the cheap because they don't work with iphones.

    • James says:

      Or it's not, but the dock doesn't have the magic resistors on the data lines to tell the phone it is allowed to charge up.

      I have a clock/radio with an iPhone dock. It works with all the old firewire charging iPods I own, it works with an iPhone 4 and 4s.

      Doesn't work with a 3GS... why? It's doing the "charging down the firewire" thing and also the "charging down the USB" thing.

      This is also not the future I was promised. Bluetooth audio and USB charging is much more future proof. I'd be mad as hell if I'd bought an expensive audio device with iPod/iPhone dock that then was made redundant by Apple "improving" the dock connector on the iPhone 5. I might buy a new phone every two years as some sort of silly fashion item, but I don't buy a new stereo every year.

      • 205guy says:

        And here I was ready to say that my retrotech iPhone 3G could probably connect to this. Though not so retro that it couldn't map the location and show me the street view of said happy hotel (though I did have to "drive" around the building to see the name). My super retro tech can also reply to this post. What more could you want from a phone except maybe to do that all through voice control (oh, wait, Siri can't do that yet either...).

        Oh, and what are the security implications of plugging your phone into someone else's dock? Would you try that in a Russian hotel?

    • relaxing says:

      Why does everyone offer up the "FireWire pins" excuse like that's supposed to mean anything?

  5. That's what they get for buying that much stuff from Bed Bath & Beyond. Or are those from Skymall?

  6. Jon Konrath says:

    The upside is that if the hotel is behind the times by 3-5 years with their technology, you'll be able to use the universal remote 000 hack to get all of the PPV movies for free.

  7. The lightning port is going to fix all of that forever, right?

    (dry, sad laughter ensues)

    For a company that is externally famous for its perceived discipline and attention to detail, Apple was always remarkably lax about this stuff. I held on to my Apple radio remote for years, assuming that the fact that it didn't work with my iPhone was some kind of software oversight, soon to be fixed in a new iOS release. Har har har: no.

    Can't anyone here play this game?

  8. nooj says:

    I'm constantly amazed Apple would break something so basic as charging the damn device.

  9. Tom Lord says:

    One time I went to a motel 6 in rural Ohio. It was next to a pizza hut and a car dealership and a big pile of dirt. I thought for a while that the big pile of dirt looked like it could be a mass grave but I decided it probably wasn't. They couldn't really get away with that. It was a fancy motel 6 with a playstation in every room. Kid friendly. The controller was on the bed when we went into the room. It was sticky like flypaper, I guess from all the kids that had ever touched it. Most of the lights worked, though. Was the iHome sticky? I'll bet it was sticky.

  10. Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy. 640k of RAM should be enough for anybody. I can't believe these new motherboards don't accept SIMMs. What do you mean I have to replace all my printers that only have parallel out? What the fuck is SATA, my drives won't connect to that. I'm fine with USB 2 so I don't know why anybody should upgrade anything ever. Why do we have to read PDFs, what's wrong with postscript? My browser only understands HTTP 1.0 so all your fancy HTTP 1.1 shit breaks my web experience and by the way it doesn't understand CSS so just stop using that as well. This new linux kernel doesn't work with my SoundBlaster 16. I can't send iMessages to people using SMTP. My parsing library doesn't understand JSON. I put FOAF on my pages and now it's useless and wasting bandwidth but I'm going to leave it there because it should work everywhere for everything forever. CAT 5 is too ambitious for my needs. My binaries aren't 64bit compatible. Threads are a fad so I don't use them.

    Thank fucking god you people can still read email with emacs...but I suppose you have an extremely valid reason to be pissy about that as well. And no, clearly I'm not new here.