Apple iPhone May Eliminate Headphone Jack, Replace With Lightning Port

Will the Apple iPhone headphones you use every day soon become obsolete — at least for new iPhone models? According to a report this week on the tech news site, future iPhone models may not use a headphone jack at all, but instead will use the proprietary Lightning connector port for a new generation of headphones.

Apple introduced the Lightning dock connector as a feature on the iPhone 5 two years ago. But at the time, and even now, even devoted iPhone fans wondered what Apple planned for the new type of connection port, which was unique to the iPhone. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is standard on almost every audio device, from the latest smartphones, to the most primitive portable cassette tape players.

But according to the 9to5Mac site, Apple has added a specification to its third-party MFi (i.e. Made For iPhone) program that allows manufacturers to create headphones that would be compatible with the Lightning port, allowing for much higher quality sound — and for use as a microphone as well.

Some observers immediately speculated that the new Lightning port headphone specification was the real reason why Apple recently spent a staggering $3.2 billion to acquire the music firm Beats, which makes high-quality headphones.

If in fact Apple introduces Beats headphone specifically for the Lightning port, the move could prove extremely profitable for the Cupertino, California, based technology company.

“The biggest upside in this switch would be for Apple,” wrote Forbes Magazine technology correspondent Gordon Kelly. “Right now you can plug any pair of headphones or earphones into an iPhone, iPod, iPad, Mac or MacBook, but with the switch Apple would control an essential peripheral and its MFi licensing program would see it start to take a sizable fee for every pair of headphones sold for use with an Apple device. Meanwhile Apple would suck up the majority of the profits with the Beats brand because owning it means there will be no licensing fee.”

The Lightning-based headphones could also include more features than the basic volume and pause controls standard on current Apple headphones. By using the Lightning port, the new headphones could also be used to launch specific apps on the iPhone, as well as other possible functions.

Apple is reportedly planning both basic and advanced versions of Lightning headphones. The advanced version would include such additional features as digital noise cancellation and a digital-analog converter.

The move could also enable Apple to differentiate the iPhone from competing smartphones, such as the popular Samsung Galaxy, which have recently been cutting into Apple’s lead in the smartphone market.