Technology

Apple has a new religion – dongleism

To quote the t-shirt slogan "I was a Mac user when Apple was doomed". I started using a Mac in 1986 and with a short break during the 90s I have had at least 1 Mac ever since. As well as Macs I have had a couple of iPads but I was a late adopter of the iPhone and I was actually a big fan of Windows Phone. We all know that Steve Jobs's obsession of with design and minimalism has been part of the Apple DNA since the start and this was re-established when he returned in 1997. The iMac that he introduced then was the first personal computer that shipped without a floppy disc drive and had only a couple of USB (1.0) ports for peripheral connection. I bought one of the first and there was a very narrow choice of printers, scanners and CD writers available at intro. You also had to have a hub to connect them as the keyboard used one of the two onboard ports. As time went on they did add more ports. Firewire, USB 2.0, thunderbolt for example.

In their laptop line I think they may have reached "peak-port" with the MacBoo Pro I am using to type this. It's a 2015 model and has a Magsafe power port, 2 USBs, 2 thunderbolt / displayports, 1 HDMI and an SD card slot. When I am working from my office I use all of them (and more). 2 external monitors connected via the displayports, an extra 128GB of microsd for media backups in the SD card slot and USB connections via the monitor for mouse, external hardrives and offboard audio. When I travel it's a bit more minimalist but I can easily connect an external monitor or projector at a client site with the HDMI. This is a well connected laptop - probably as good as the equivalent Windows 10 machine from Dell, for example.

But the latest Macbook Pro is a different kettle of aquatic life. The base model comes with just 2 USB-C ports and one of these is used for power, so basically you have a single USB-C port that you cannot connect you old USB peripherals to without a dongle. You cannot connect your HDMI or your SD card without a dongle. You can pay extra for the fancy model with the stupid touch bar and have a couple of extra USB-C ports for around £250 each. It's a similar story with the latest iPhones, only a lightning connector, not even a headset jack and of course no SD card slot so you have no choice but to pay CAT (Cupertino Added Tax) on additional flash memory.

So your only recourse is to buy dongles or other adaptors. I understand that there are around 17 Apple branded dongles and adaptors available at the Apple store. The cheapest appear to be around £29 and if you want to connect external monitors it will cost you £69 and then you can only connect one. It seems that Apple's obsession with clean design and minimalism has inadvertently turned them into dongleists. Maybe they need the money, but I can't help feeling that their alienation of their long time users will probably cost them more than their dongle business makes. If their current MacBook Pro doesn't grow back some ports (as likely as Adam Hills regrowing his leg), I am unlikely to replace my current MBP with a new one and horror of horrors, I may have to get a Windows laptop.

I am an atheist and I won't subscribe to the religion of dongleism.