The inevitable ubiquity of USB-C

There will be some temporary pain, but it will be worth it

USB-C really is the one-wire dream: an industry-standard I/O interface that handles data (10Gbps via USB v3.1; 40Gbps via Thunderbolt 3), audio, video, and power (up to 100 watts), is small (enough), is reversible, is meant to be future-proof, and is fully backwards compatible (all the way back to USB v1.0).

So what’s not to like? I don’t know. Yes, we’ll all have to buy a few adapters and hubs during the transition, and have hair-pulling conversations with the muggles in our lives, but once the planet-wide conversion is complete, I think we can expect USB-C’s reign to last a long while, much like USB-A/B before it.

It’s probably safe to say that this sea change won’t begin in earnest until USB-C replaces the Lightning port on iPhones. Does that happen with the next model later this year? Probably not, but I’d be really surprised if we don’t see it on iPhones in 2018.

It won’t be long before even normals are decrying manufacturers’ use of anything other than USB-C — the “Seriously, it doesn’t use C? *eye roll*” annoyances will add up really quickly. We’re talking about ditching power bricks and/or proprietary adapters for nearly all devices (e.g., laptops, cameras, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, etc.), connecting multiple peripherals to your laptop with a single cable, and killing off USB-A, miniUSB, microUSB, HDMI, VGA, and on and on. Regular folks will get behind this, and fast, and once they do, companies will be hard-pressed to justify their device not using it.

As sure as the jobs aren’t coming back, the wired I/O interface we deserve and need is snowballing itself into our lives, and as far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better.


A few weeks ago I bought Bang & Olufsen’s latest Bluetooth speakers — the Beolit 17 and the P2 — and was pleasantly surprised to see that they both use USB-C (for charging). Expect this to become the norm over the next couple of years.

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