The new MacBook’s single port and why every new MacBook needs a different goddamn charger

Heading: Why every new MacBook needs a DIFFERENT GODDAMN CHARGER / Photo: Custom clover-leaf MagSafe power adapter being plugged into a MacBook.

Our more cynical readers already know why the new MacBook requires a completely new goddamn charger that’s totally incompatible with your old one, but in case you didn’t, this CollegeHumor video featuring “Jony Ive” and “Tim Cook” will explain it all for you (be warned, there’s swearing):

The designers at Apple have always taken an anti-clutter approach, which has always gotten on a few alpha nerds’ nerves. When the iMac debuted without floppy drives and old-school serial ports and went with just USB, it was followed by a litany of complaints until that approach became the standard. Over time, a number of “must-have” features have been disappearing from Mac laptops, including optical drives and ethernet ports, and each time, the change has been immediately followed by the gnashing of teeth, and later followed by the rest of the industry doing the same. It would appear the Jony Ive and his team have been reading The Little Prince:

Heading: 'Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.' -- Antoine du Saint-Exupery / Illustration: The Little Prince standing on his home planet.

The latest furor in Apple’s Little Prince approach to hardware has been over the new MacBook’s ports being reduced to a single reversible USB 3 port. Power, video, peripherals — they’ll all connect to this single interface:

Caption: The new MacBook's actual lone USB 3 port / Photo: USB 3 plug being plugged into a new MacBook.

And it’s likely that most of the time, you can get by. But there will come times when you’ll need to plug it into a monitor and power and an external drive or other USB thingy, and that’s when you’ll need this thing, which Apple will happy sell to you for a mere $79:

Caption: Apple’s USB 3 - to HDMI / USB / USB pass-through adapter...yours for a mere $79! / Photo: Apple USB 3 dongle.

If the pattern holds, the outrage will eventually die out and other hardware vendors will follow suit. The trend towards doing everything wirelessly and the fact that our phones are now are cameras, iPods, and increasingly our primary computing devices means that for most of us, those ports that we know and love will become superfluous. Will Stabley echoes my thinking when he writes:

Take a look at the laptop you’re typing on right now. If you have more than one cable plugged into it, you’re not the typical consumer. Backup drives, printers, internet connections, and even syncing your iPhone are increasingly done wirelessly. So don’t freak out that the new MacBook only has one port. The odds are it’s been awhile since you’ve used a USB accessory anyway.

That doesn’t mean that there won’t be bumps in the road; there’s always been some annoyance in the less-is-more transition. As Wired put it in their article titled Life with the MacBook’s Single Port Won’t be Easy — Yet:

In many ways, this new MacBook is an exciting harbinger of a bright future, one teeming with interoperability and free of proprietary connectors. We’re not quite there yet, though. And until we are, it’s going to be a long, dongle-paved road.

Fine, fine. But I still have to rant: Why did the hell did this change have to render my current power supply obsolete?!

Thanks to Laughing Squid for finding the CollegeHumor video!