Whoops Wrong Way. . .USB Troubles

By: Samantha Lynn Garrison (’15), Pace Law School

Have you ever inserted a USB plug connector correctly on the first try? If you answered yes, you’re either lying or I should applaud you.  Almost everyone has experienced the attempted first try insertion of a USB and failed.  Whoops wrong way, flip it over, still the wrong way, flip it back …perfect. Well these five seconds of frustration may soon officially come to an end.  Back in February of 2014, Apple Inc. filed a patent application for a USB plug connector that can be inserted with either side up.  According to the application, published on August 24, 2014, the plug connector will be “compatible with any current or future electronic device that includes a standard USB receptacle connector”.   This is a plus.  Apple will not force you to purchase the newest computer models to utilize your reversible USB drive.

But does the world really need a new USB plug or is the reversible USB feeding into the fast-pace, microwave age of impatience? According to the application, “users may incorrectly insert a plug connector into a corresponding receptacle connector, which may potentially result in damage to the connectors and/or user frustration”.  It’s completely reasonable for a company to seek to protect its product from damage such as that which can be caused by forcing a USB into a port incorrectly, particularly since, damage is being caused by the customer. Not only does this force Apple to assign its technicians to fix this easily preventable problem, but it can also cost them money, as any product covered by the warranty will have the repair done for free. However, is the solution a new invention that needs to be purchased separately from the USB? Why not label the current USB with a bright color indicating the correct side of insertion?  Or perhaps users should take more time in determining the proper side up.

Although technology is constantly improving, and making the lives of its users easier, there are times that the additional cost and implementation of a new product is unnecessary. A label, or lack of user laziness, could easily garner the same result. Further, if a user is truly being frustrated by the insertion of a USB into a computer, then the technology itself may be more of an issue. Even at a young age, children play with toys that involve placing the right shaped piece into the correct hole. Unless an individual happens to be James Bond seeking to steal secrets from an evil mastermind, five seconds of flipping a USB should not cost an individual enough time to amount to any serious frustration. Either way, if granted, the patent would leave Apple with another genius moneymaker that will be flooding the shelves.

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5 comments

  1. I am guilty of this frustration. Apple has always geared their products toward being both user friendly and aesthetically pleasing, so it makes sense that they would be the first to attack this “problem”.

  2. I was just put into this situation before reading this article when I had to connect my printer to my laptop. I did notice on my UBS connector that there is a symbol on one side which indicates the right way to plug in the connector. While I don’t think this invention will revolutionize the industry, if it makes peoples lives a little bit easier then I’m all for it. The market will decide if Apple has created something that really adds value or if they just wasted their time and money.

  3. I love the comments representing both sides of this issue. Sure, making a new device that more user friendly is helpful, but is asking people to pay attention to something that should be easily fixable too much to ask? Where do we draw the line with our resources? It makes me wonder what will come next.

  4. I am not sure how much people would be willing to spend for a remedy to this “problem”. However, there is a market for it and I am sure it will dictate the price. Mac has enjoyed imposing its desired prices, and it usually overpriced, to the general public, I think this one will be a different story.

  5. Do you know how many times I have inserted a USB in the wrong way. Probably one of the most frustrating events in my life on a day to day basis.

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