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No phone is taken seriously as a music media device unless, through some dongle or by direct design, headphones or earbuds with a standard 3.5mm stereo jack can be used. But that standard plug does not include a way to use a remote control, or a microphone, two things that music phones could always really use. I remember using portable CD player in the early 90s whose remote on the wire worked by emitting little beeps that the player listened to and interpreted, while other devices with wired remotes always had strange plugs. The designers had to compromise.
Well, Apple released an iPod Shuffle yesterday with no buttons on the main device, and migrated the controls to the wire on the headset. Not the first software audio player to do so, but the first one to really need it: the main device is just too small for buttons. Sure you can buy a dongle (this is all sounding awfully familiar) to use your own headphones, and the dongle will cost extra and include the remote on the wire. But the actual jack used is a simple variation of the standard headphone jack, so simple any manufacturer of headphones can copy it (5 rings instead of one: left, right, control, mic, power). And manufacturers now have. Because the Shuffle will sell so many units that making add-on products is not a niche. This jack is now a consumer standard. With microphones as well that will work on other iPods. A new standard that other portable media manufacturers could have set, and simply never did.
Yeah, we may have to buy a stupid dongle from Apple now for our preferred earbuds and headphones, but in a few years we won't because standard earbuds and headphones will have the controls and mics built-in. And almost all other players and phones -- starting with cheap units designed by rock-bottom Chinese outfits who will always eschew proprietary lock-in for cheap availability -- will be made so that those headsets and remotes will work the same too.