/ Technology

Opinion: it’s the ‘Ryanair approach’ to tech

Sleek technology shouldn’t mean paying extra for kit that used to come in the box. Do you agree?

Where Apple leads, other tech firms often (reluctantly) follow. Apple was the first to make a smartphone as we now understand them; first to abandon the headphone jack on its phones and first to ditch a range of ports on laptops in favour of just a couple of USB ports.

So it was a surprise to see the expensive new MacBook Pros had turned back the clock and added not only an HDMI port, but also an SD card slot to three Thunderbolt ports and headphone jack. But given the price (from £1,299), a couple of extra ports is the least you should hope for.

Minimal ports

The move towards minimal ports on devices is increasingly annoying and expensive. My Windows laptop only has two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports plus a headphone jack, so I had to shell out more than £200 on a dock to connect it to my monitor, keyboard, mouse, webcam, speakers and external hard drives.

While we’re at it, my phone, like an increasing number of devices, didn’t come with a charging plug, either. I recently spent £30 on an extension lead that has four USB ports. But those are USB-A ports, and the cable that came with my phone is USB-C at both ends. That meant another Amazon trip to buy a couple of USB-A to USB-C adaptors.

I think my next purchase will be a USB charging dock so I can charge several devices at once. Another thirty quid.

A chance to sell us things?

Tech firms say this helps keep devices slim and the absence of charging plugs reduces electronic waste. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s also a good chance to sell us things that used to come in the box.

It’s like the Ryanair approach: take things away from the inclusive price then sell them to you for extra, and tell you it’s for your own good.

I used to joke that Apple’s minimalist approach to ports was because it had a secret strategy to dominate the global dongle market. I now spend almost as much on connectors and plugs as I do on the tech.

What do you think? Are you happy to buy the dongles, cables, and leads separately from your devices, or should you get everything you need in the box?

Should the required dongles, leads, and cables come with your new tech, or separately?
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Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

Totally agree with Kate’s comments. I recently informed Apple I would probably not be buying any more of their products, despite having done so for the last 13 years, because of their stupid shortsightedness in minimising the number and type of ports.

Robert Alexander says:
16 December 2021

Already well fed up with the current system, was think it should all be in the box before I read this. Had to drive into Malaga 80mile round trip to get a connection adapter. It’s not like we can all get things delivered to the door!

If it was clear that the product comes without adapters /leads etc then it is sensible regarding the excessive waste of such items but only if the headline cost of the product reflects a commensurate reduction in price. I see no evidence of this and therefore all it does is increase margins for increasingly and excessively greedy and bloated tech giants. Perhaps the real answer is to sell two options one with and one without so the consumer can make the choice to genuinely save on waste (and on cost of the product) whereas if you do not have connectors and chargers you need then there is a version with ‘everything in the box’

Getting a charging plug and lead for me depends on what I’m intending to do with old kit. If I’m passing it on to someone else then I will also pass on the whole package therefore I need a replacement. If I’m recycling the kit then I won’t recycle the plug and lead.

John Kay says:
9 February 2022

If you can’t use it to meet your needs out of the box, then the product is not fit for purpose.