Discussing the dongles

Apple MacBook Pro Image copyright Apple
Image caption Apple faced a backlash after it released a laptop that lacked many of the ports found on its predecessors

Few pieces on this blog have provoked a reaction quite like my piece published on Friday about Apple and its "dongle dilemma".

Over the weekend, many of you sent emails, tweets and Facebook messages to share your views.

I thought I'd share a few of them here.

A lot of the notes concerned the use of the word "dongle" itself.

Tim: "I appreciate the alliteration, but 'dongle' (and 'dilemma') are wrong in this case. 'Adapter anarchy' might have been better. A dongle is not an adapter, even if Wikipedia cites it as an additional usage of the word."

Image copyright Apple
Image caption Apple sells a range of adapters for peripherals lacking a USB-C socket

This was echoed by several readers on Twitter.

@jeffdyeruk: "Clearly you don't know what 'dongle' or 'legacy' means."

@Dadge: "Connectors and adapter are the right words, aren't they? Not sure why you use the word dongle."

Though several readers disagreed over precisely what a dongle is, the broad consensus is that the word should be reserved for devices that can be plugged in directly - like an adapter that adds wi-fi to a laptop.

I'd argue the word, like many in technology, is evolving to cover any little bit of kit you stick into your computer.

But I suspect this won't be the end of it.

On Reddit, Asterysk wrote: "I still laugh at the word dongle. I'm 29."

Me too, on both counts.

In the piece, I declared that we should perhaps give Apple a break as it often ditches bits of tech we think we can't live without, only to be proven right a year or so down the line.

I said the company's ditching of the CD/DVD port was one case where it had got it right as barely anyone used CDs of DVDs anymore.

Well, turns out I was wrong.

@Warren_S_Nel: "Just read your article about Apple, and I regularly put CDs into my brand new Windows laptop."

@MWJowett: "The last time i put a CD in my laptop was yesterday!"

@HampshireHog66: "You asked 'when did you last put a CD in your PC?' Last night. It was a very good movie."

But the wider truth is that disc use has plummeted.

Services such as Netflix and Steam mean we no longer need to head out to the likes of Blockbuster to rent or buy movies and video games - at least that's true for those of us that have a decent broadband connection

However, this underlines the issue many have with Apple's latest decision.

@mr_vpw: "I'm not sure your comparison to the DVD drive is fair. Downloads were already standard. USB-A isn't even vaguely abandoned."

Image copyright Apple
Image caption Those wanting to connect the new MacBook Pro to a VGA cable will need a dongle

The underlying discussion of this dongle (adapter…) debate is one about Apple's future direction.

I wrote that "only an idiot" would write off Apple - the richest company in the world - at this point. But, via email, one reader took exception to that view too.

Rob: "As someone who believes Apple's days are numbered, why am I an idiot to think so? Historically, Apple has almost gone under a number of times. Each time, Jobs has returned to pull the company's fat from the fire. If he can do that again, I think it's more than Apple he'll be saving.

"Since his passing, Apple has done nothing innovative and this recent debacle just shows just how much they still believe their brand can ignore their market, despite falling market share and strengthening competition from the Far East; and how critical he was to each of their recoveries in the past by seeing past the present to what the market needs tomorrow.

"I would expect a BBC journalist to consider this possibility, as well as that Apple have something up their sleeve, rather than simply insulting those who's opinion differs from his; especially when that opinion has historical support and his does not."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Steve Jobs dies five years ago having revived Apple's fortunes

I, of course, didn't meant to insult Rob, or anyone else.

Rather, I wanted to make the point that it's too early to write off Apple's chances to reinvent itself, and maybe even the computing industry, again.

Steve Jobs may be gone, but other bright minds - including Britain's own Jony Ive - are still in place and could still do great things.

Whatever happens, 2017 is shaping up to be a remarkable year in the history of Apple. A time, perhaps, as pivotal as the year leading up to the first iPod.

What is striking, however, is that in all the correspondence that came my way, not one stood up in defence of Apple's choices.

Given its reputation for having dedicated, vocal fans, that feels rather telling.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC and on Facebook

Related Topics