In October 2012, Apple introduced the lightning connector to replace the ten-year-old dock connector. It can now be found on the iPhone 5, iPad Mini, and the new iPad (4th generation).
I am more interested in how much longer the dock connector will live on. If you want to know why Apple switched connectors read Jason Perlow’s piece in ZDNet. Right now, Apple still sells the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and iPod Classic. All of these products have the older dock connector.
In 2013, Apple will introduce a new iPhone (for this article lets call it the 5S) and a new iPad (5th generation). These products will obviously have lightning connectors. Apple will also stop selling the iPhone 4, and the iPhone 4S will drop down to $1 on contract. Apple may or may not be able to sell the iPad 4th generation at $399, but for this thought experiment, it doesn’t really matter. In 2013, Apple will sell products with the dock connector.
In 2014, Apple will introduce a new iPhone (for this article lets call it the 6) and a new iPad (6th generation). Apple will stop selling the iPhone 4S. I cannot imagine Apple selling the iPad 2 in 2014, so the iPad won’t have a dock connector either. The only product left with a dock connector is the iPod Classic. It hasn’t been updated since 2009 and will be the last product available with a dock connector. This would be a good time to kill off the product.
The introduction of the iPod marked a huge shift for Apple. It’s sad to see it go, but Apple is a company that cannibalizes its own sales for the sake of future growth. In 2014 we will say, RIP iPod Classic. RIP Dock Connector.
(As a side note, there is no guarantee Apple will follow the usual schedule or naming convention of new products. This post is more concerned with when the lightning connector will fully replace the old dock connector.)