Apple & the headphone jack – Innovation or needless change?

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Apple made a lot of news yesterday with the release of their newest iPhone.

There’s really only one aspect of it anyone is talking about: the removal of the headphone jack.

Was it the right thing to do? Is the reduction in bezel size worth the trade off of using wireless headphones or an adapter?

Was the mountains of consumer feedback supporting the headphone jack wrong?

Steve Jobs was notoriously good about knowing what consumers really wanted. “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

The Henry Ford quote comes to mind –

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

No doubt the iPhone has changed most of our daily lives forever, whether yours is in your pocket or you’re using the competitive Android option – phones will never be the same again because of the iPhone. But where do you draw the line between innovation and needless changes?

The backflow industry has parallels of contentious innovation vs  needless changes too.

Test cock adapters are a great example. There have been a lot of changes to them over the last 20+ years. Some good, some, not so good…

I remember my first set; you screwed them in and had to grab a wrench to snug them up and to loosen them. They got wet and slipped in my hands and I fought with them too much.

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But then the knurled sets came around. What a treat! No more slipping in your hands or need to grab a wrench for that last snug-up so they didn’t leak. If you don’t still have a set of these in your testing kit you’re missing out!

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About the time those came on the scene there were some other less-great changes available as well. I believe it was Watts that started offering the self-sealing test cocks on their devices. They sure look nifty – no need to turn the test cocks on and off–it was automatic… Until they inevitably started leaking from a few years use or some stray dirt (now why would that be anywhere near a backflow? hah!) A seemingly great idea that didn’t hold up for too long. Now all they are is the reason you carry a few spare test cocks around just in case you need to replace a leaking one of those.

Now-a-days most test cocks have the gauge adapter already on them. So we eventually got to the right place, it just took a few years and a few swings & misses.

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We’re seeing the same changes with test reports & standards. Paper for the last 40+ years is finally moving to electronic methods. More than 50% of the test reports sent through Syncta are sent electronically to Water Purveyors. A big time savings from paper (for both the testers & the purveyors!) We’re confident we’ll keep seeing that number increase and will do our part to save everyone a little bit more time and keep improving.

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