On this week’s The iPhone 5 episode of The (New) Talk Show, John Gruber mentioned that Apple is perfectly happy to leave battery pack accessories up to third-party vendors. He’s right, of course, but what stuck with me is that they’re STILL leaving a vast number of important peripherals up to third-party folks. Back in 2008 I whined about issues I was having finding an acceptable vehicle charger, and long story short, I still have those same issues. I briefly got decent audio quality using a special Kensington noise-reducing cable which broke after like two months. I find it interesting (and frustrating, and silly) that four and a half years after that initial frustration, I still have to seek vital solutions like charging on the go from a company other than Apple.
Why is this? Because they know that they can’t provide a perfect solution. They don’t want to have to admit that even though playing audio via an AUX cable while simultaneously charging via a cigarette lighter can produce wildly differing results in different vehicles. My Scion xA always makes a train-tracks-squealy-brakes noise when I play and charge at the same time, but the same sound wasn’t present in my friends’ cars. Unless they can control the customer experience more closely, they don’t think it’s worth their time and effort to produce a first-party solution to this particular niche of the marketplace. They’re probably right, of course. The R&D and production of a flawless system (which would probably have to incorporate an unwieldy special audio cable like the Kensington above) would not be worth the number of units they’d sell at a reasonable price.
But man, if they would just come out with a first-party solution that worked, I’d totally pay top dollar for it. I feel the same way about their defunct Bluetooth headset (I know it was crappy and unpopular, but it fit my ear with no snappy-onny thing and it synced with the OS so nicely while they still supported it)—I would happily pay another $100 for another inferior yet first-party Bluetooth headset, because even if it wasn’t the best headset on the market, it would be the best one for this particular phone that I still use and love. I wish Apple would pony up and make more peripherals—battery packs, better headphones, hands-free headsets, vehicle chargers, tripods, microphones for podcasting, external camera lens enhancements, you name it. The general iPhone population might not shell out top dollar, but I’d buy ’em, and I know lots of other affluent nerds who would join me. And then we’d buy our casual iPhoner parents weird accessories for the holidays and everyone would win.