CEA Unveils Portable Media Player Connector

The Consumer Electronics Association has announced a new standard for portable media player connectors intended to provide a universal way for consumers to access and charge their personal digital media players both in the home with computers and other personal electronics as well as in their cars. The CEA claims more than 100 companies were involved with developing the standard, dubbed CEA-2017, with the idea that consumers will be able to freely mix and match players, peripherals, charging systems, and in-vehicle systems without having to worry about their device’s brand or manufacturer.

“This standard marks a milestone in the development of open industry standards. With its publication, this common connector standard will more easily enable device interconnectivity in the homes and cars of consumers,” added Microsoft Corporation’s Dave McLauchlan, chair of the Portable Device Media Interconnect working group.

Although the CEA only makes the CEA-2017 specs available for a fee, there’s some question about whether it may be too late for portable media players to standardize on a single connector—and, if they do, why it would be anything other than the already widely-supported iPod dock connector, which is already available on an astonishingly wide range of peripherals and offered as a factory option on numerous cars and other vehicles. The problem with the Dock connector is that Apple could—and has—change it without any notice to third party manufacturers, although at this point the size of the iPod ecosystem is large enough that Apple would have to think very carefully about any alterations to the dock connector. However, if Apple were to embrace the CEA’s new connector standard, the CEA could see the connector gain significant market traction very quickly. If Apple doesn’t adopt the new connector, the consumer electronics industry will probably have to wait for the iPod’s dominance to wane before the CEA-2017 connector sees significant adoption in the marketplace.

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