The new crop of iPad Pro tablets break with the iOS device tradition and drops the Lightning port in favor of the more agnostic USB-C standard. Is this the beginning of the end for the Lightning port?
Swapping the Lightning port for USB-C allows the new iPad Pro to do cool things like have a high-speed connection to external devices, and transform the iPad Pro into a glorified — and expensive — powerbank. It’s also a mark of maturity and professionalism that aligns the new iPad Pros more with the MacBook than the existing iPad line.
Now that “Pro” in the name is underlined by the inclusion of a port that potentially allows the device to do pro work.
But there are downsides on both sides. For those already using iOS devices, it means having to get used to a new port and buying new kit. And for Apple, it means losing a chunk of MFi (“Made For iPhone”) licensing money.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the European Commission is considering forcing Apple to dump the Lightning connector and adopt the USB standard in an attempt to further reduce on electronic waste.
Apple could be using the iPad Pro as a signal to critics that it is making strides towards adopting the USB standard, while at the same time protecting MFi revenue where it matters (the iPhone).
The truth is that ports — all ports, not just the Lightning port — are on borrowed time. As connectivity and charging switches from wired to wireless, we’re moving towards devices that have no physical buttons and no ports.
So no, this is not the beginning of the end for the Lightning port. The end began a long time ago.