Apple is taking a lot of flack for its decision to drop the SD card slot from the new MacBook Pro range and outfit it with Thunderbolt ports only, but the company is confident it’s made the right choice — even if a lot of users won’t agree with its reasoning.
Speaking to The Independent, Apple exec Phil Schiller said the company had dropped the SD card slot as it was "cumbersome" and because wireless transfer technology for cameras is "proving very useful" as an alternative. A lot of photographers, though, would disagree with this. Although wireless tethering is certainly getting better, it’s frequently buggy and still slower than using an SD card to get photos from to your computer. In a professional situation where speed and reliability count, it’s not a viable alternative, which is why people will be forced to use a dongle instead.
Here's Schiller’s full answer on why the SD card slot was dropped:
Because of a couple of things. One, it’s a bit of a cumbersome slot. You've got this thing sticking halfway out. Then there are very fine and fast USB card readers, and then you can use CompactFlash as well as SD. So we could never really resolve this – we picked SD because more consumer cameras have SD but you can only pick one. So, that was a bit of a trade-off. And then more and more cameras are starting to build wireless transfer into the camera. That’s proving very useful. So we think there’s a path forward where you can use a physical adaptor if you want, or do wireless transfer.
When asked if it’s "inconsistent" for the MacBook Pro to retain the traditional headphone jack (another widely-used connector that Apple has dropped from the iPhone) Schiller says that professionals still need that on a laptop for other types of audio gear that doesn't work wirelessly. "If it was just about headphones then it doesn’t need to be there, we believe that wireless is a great solution for headphones," he says.
In a follow-up interview a day later, Schiller also notes that there has been "a lot of passionate dialogue and debate about the new MacBook Pro." He adds that he’s been surprised by the criticism, but says the decision to only use Thunderbolt ports was a "bold risk" and Apple will "help people through these changes."