Damned Lightning Adapter for iPhone 5 unlikely to darken Apple's angelic brand

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5 could break all records for sales. It’s fascinating to watch.

What’s also fascinating to me is the way Apple seems to be breaking its earlier reputation for its incredibly polished marketing of its reputation, brand and products.

To see what I mean, just take out a few minutes to watch the video of the start of CEO Tim Cook’s keynote at Wednesday’s iPhone 5 launch. http://www.apple.com/iphone/

 Within five minutes, Cook has shown us an amazing short video snippet of Apple’s Barcelona store launch.

Many regard Apple as a religion—some would say a cult-- and the store opening video seems to draw on all those religious references:  The sleek Barcelona store with its glass staircase and beautiful exterior limestone is a modern cathedral. The blue-shirted store employees are a joyous chorus.  The high priest seems to be the spirit of Steve Jobs, although he’s not depicted in the clip.

I’m not bothered at all that Apple might be a religion, in a sense.  We rely so much on smartphones and other technology that it is appropriate to see us “worship” it, perhaps.  Apple has inspired Google and Android and more recently Microsoft and Windows Phone. It really is inspiration in the form of competition.

Apple has long had its faithful following for products, including the first iPhones introduced in 2007, but it is also venturing into more physical storefronts than ever. Cook noted that Apple will be in 13 countries with stores soon, and had 83 million visitors to its stores last quarter. That puts Apple on a pace of seeing 1 million visitors to its store EACH DAY. Modern American churches and other places of worship, take note.

Customers consistently like Apple’s in-store service, too, which is a credit to the people working in them.  So what Apple is doing is erecting a more solid community of followers that extends beyond great products.  The great products have partly done well because of inspired marketing and videos –remember the first iPod ads? —but now it seems that an Apple store opening has also inspired a great video, which has its residual effects.

Don’t worry: I’m not likely to stop questioning Apple for mistakes and good old American avarice.  For example, they are selling the Lightning-to-30 pin Adapter for $29 separate from the iPhone 5 which starts at $199 (with two year contract) so you can connect an iPhone 5 to legacy 30-pin accessories. There's also a $39 cable with old and new adapters at either end.

Lightning was created with eight wires, not actual pins, to accommodate the slimmer new iPhone 5—a good thing. The downside is that hotels with clock alarms and gyms with exercise machines with 30-pin ports will have to buy adapters, if that’s even practical.  Just about every consumer with an older iPhone and various accessories who updates to the new iPhone 5 will need the Adapter.

If Apple sells 40 million iPhone 5s in the coming months, and one Adapter for each of those at $29 apiece, they will have generated more than $1 billion in revenue for adapters alone!

That's good for retailers and Apple indeed, but it’s blasphemous that Apple wouldn’t create a micro USB port instead of a Lightning port for the iPhone 5.  The European Union requires the micro USB, and Apple makes an adapter for countries in Europe to accommodate its 30-pin port to the micro USB, which is used by many other smartphone makers. 

If Apple is a religion, then the new Adapter it has introduced puts Apple and Tim Cook in the category of a televangelist preacher. He’s urging viewers to send in $29 to receive special prayers--or at least a prayer of connecting to a legacy 30-pin accessory.

Is this Adapter evil? No.  Is it angelic?  Well, not exactly.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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