Apple has used “one more thing…” as a closing catchphrase off and on since 1998. Steve Jobs would pretend the event was over, start leaving the stage, and then would say “one more thing” before revealing some magical new innovation. Tim Cook said it most recently with the launch of the Apple Watch in 2014.
The next big Apple event is scheduled for next week. And while the focus is expected to be on services rather than hardware, I find myself wondering at every Apple event what port changes will happen that will require a new dongle.
In the last few years, “one more thing” has come to mean one more dongle to carry around in our bags; one more dongle to misplace and have to make an emergency run to an Apple store to spend $69; one more dongle to have to think about when connecting Apple products with projectors, monitors, headphones, USB drivers, or even other Apple products.
A San Francisco designer named Ryan Geraghty recently mocked Apple’s dongle problem with a parody product — “One Dongle To Rule Them All”. As he writes, “It can be difficult to part with a favorite pair of headphones or replace an entire home entertainment system just because of a small port change.”
Ryan’s parody product would replace 23 current dongles on the market. Buying those dongles individually would “run you upwards of $857, which is quite a hefty price tag to continue to use products you’ve already paid for. Dongle is not only a more fully-featured product, but it will also retail at a much more approachable $400.”
I think Apple’s dongle problem represents the myopia that can occur in any type of product development.
It reminds me the classic marketing quote from Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” To take this further, people don’t ultimately want a quarter-inch hole, they want a framed print on their wall.
Similarly, people don’t want USB-C or Lightning in 23 different adapter variations. They just want to give a presentation, listen to music, or scan in a cartoon poking fun at Apple.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:
“Product Proliferation” April 2018
“New-Featuritis” June 2010