More Thoughts on the End of the Traditional iPhone Headphone Jack

There’s just too much smoke surrounding the rumours predicting the end of the traditional headphone jack on the next iteration of the iPhone for it not to be true. Getting rid of it would (a) be one less hole on a device that strives to be elegant; (b) make it a little more watertight; (c) free up some space inside the case (there’s rumour of it being taken up by an extra speaker); and (d)–and let’s not forget this–a chance for Apple to sell a shitload of dongle adapters and Lightning port headphones. (They own Beats, remember?)

We’ll find out for sure next month. Meanwhile, though, here are more ruminations on what the headphone jack is all about. That includes something called “the analogue hole.”

Do you know who Lyor Cohen is? This isn’t a rhetorical question. I have no perspective here. If you work in the music business, he’s a household name. If you don’t work in the music business, why the fuck would you care about some corporate executive? But maybe, in this case, you actually would care, because Cohen’s a significant enough figure that he sorta transcends that.

Anyway, real quick: Lyor Cohen played an instrumental role in bringing rap to mainstream audiences in the ’80s. He headed up Def Jam Records in the ’90s. He was chairman and chief executive of Warner Music Group in the ’00s. He’s Jay Z’s mentor. That’s not just some unattributed thing people say because they heard someone else say it. That’s a thing Jay Z said in his own 2010 autobiography, Decoded.

So maybe you already knew Lyor Cohen, maybe not, but either way, you know him now. Last week, The Guardian ran a lengthy feature on Cohen, which was full of anecdotes and insights, including this spicy bit of invective directed at another iconic corporate executive whom youdefinitely know:

My firsthand experience with Steve [Jobs] was that he was determined and was going to get only what he wanted. And he was a bully. He was very seductive, but a profound bully. And oftentimes he did not say the truth.

I.e., Jobs “did not say the truth” in regard to his dealings with the music industry at the dawn of the iTunes era. Now, Cohen is by no means the first C-suite guy to speak ill of Jobs. It was only nine months ago that Pandora CFO Mike Herring told us, “Steve Jobs eviscerated the music industry with the launch of iTunes and it’s been downhill ever since.” But something aboutwhat Cohen said struck a chord with me: a person who had zero firsthand experience with Steve Jobs, but was nonetheless in the trenches at that particular moment in time. Do you remember when iPods first came out? Back in the day, they came wrapped in this clear protective tape, on the front of which was printed the command:

“Don’t steal music.”

Read on.

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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