Why Apple’s Ditching of the USB Port is Bad for Music

On Thursday, Apple unveiled a new line of (very expensive) MacBook Pros, all of which look really interesting. What’s missing from all of them, though, are the standard USB ports. Yes, there are plenty of  new and very versatile USB-C connections (four of them), but the familiar kind–the sort that fit the ubiquitous thumb drives we all have lying all over the place–are absent.

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Great. Even though we’ll be able to use adapters/dongles to adapt, this could mean that standard USB is on the road to extinction. And this could be bad for music. Pitchfork explains why.

Last night I got together with a few friends to DJ at a new bar not far from my neighborhood in Barcelona. At three in the morning, when we finished, I took a leisurely stroll home in the unusually temperate air, hands stuffed in the pockets of my windbreaker. A few years ago, I would’ve been schlepping a heavy bag of records, and I probably would have given in and hailed a cab. But since I DJ off USB sticks these days, my headphones were the heaviest piece of gear I had to lug. This morning, I woke up to find out that those same USB sticks, sitting where I left them in the pocket of my jeans, are on the fast track to obsolescence.

At least, that’ll be the case if the rest of the industry follows Apple’s lead. Yesterday, when the Cupertino tech behemoth announced a new version of its MacBook Pro, the usual USB ports were conspicuously missing—until now, two of them were standard on Apple’s high-end laptops—and in their place were four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Keep reading.

 

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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