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The Steve Jobs video that explains why Apple does things like removing headphone jacks

That “courage” thing.

Steve Jobs onstage at the D8 conference
Steve Jobs speaks at the D8 conference in 2010.
Asa Mathat

Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 has, predictably, drawn some skepticism, criticism and confusion.

But it’s a move straight out of Apple’s playbook: To eliminate a common technology after its logical prime in favor of a new, better technology that is on its way up. In this case, that’s wireless earphones (longer term) and wired earphones powered by the iPhone’s Lightning port (shorter term).

Explaining the move during Apple’s keynote this past week, Apple product marketing executive Phil Schiller said it was really about “courage” — “the courage to move on, do something new that betters all of us.”

This was met, predictably, with some eye rolling, smirking and rebuttal. But it’s also a move straight out of Apple’s playbook!

Steve Jobs even used the same word, “courage,” while explaining another controversial Apple decision: To prohibit Adobe from creating a Flash plugin — then the web’s most popular video-streaming format — for iPhones and iPads.

Jobs just used the word better.

“We’re trying to make great products for people, and so we have at least the courage of our convictions to say ‘we don’t think this is part of what makes a great product, we’re going to leave it out,’” he told Recode founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher onstage at the D8 conference in 2010 (via 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy).

“And we’re going to instead focus our energy on these technologies, which we think are in their ascendancy and we think are going to be the right technologies for customers.”

In other words: “Courage of one’s convictions, not courage running into a burning building to save a life,” John Gruber interpreted at Daring Fireball.

Anyway, back to the missing headphone jack. Will it work?

“That’s what a lot of customers pay us to do, is to try to make the best products we can,” Jobs said in the D8 interview. “And if we succeed, they’ll buy them. And if we don’t, they won’t. And it’ll all work itself out.”

So that will be the real test here. Will the iPhone 7’s missing headphone jack hurt sales? If it does severely, then Apple might retreat — it has on some design decisions before. Jobs and Apple even had to do that shortly before this interview was conducted, when a new, minimalist iPod shuffle design with no buttons proved unpopular.

But my guess is that it won’t hurt sales, and we won’t see a new iPhone with a 3.5mm headphone jack again.

Apple is going out of its way to make the transition easy for iPhone 7 buyers by including both Lightning-powered earbuds and a Lightning-to-headphone-jack dongle as standard accessories. And then easing people toward wireless, which is becoming easier every year.

Read this next: The first iPhone didn’t have a normal headphone jack, either

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