Square will no longer have a Round hole to fit in…

Not everything that crosses my mind has to do directly with photography.

Today is one of those days.

Apple just announced the new iPhone 7. One of the biggest changes to the new phones is the elimination of the headphone jack. The basic device connection interface that has been around since long before there were ever iPhones in the first place.

One of my immediate thoughts (after musing about how much I really dislike Bluetooth headphones to begin with) was: What about Square?

I have been a fan of Square since day one. I actually received their very first model of magstrip reader. Square is the company that allows Studio Orange to accept credit card payments to this day.

One of the things that made Square such a cool technology for small businesses is that it relied on ubiquitous technology for its basic magstrip reader. Every single device Square could interface with has a headphone jack.

This meant that Square did not have to rely on specific device standards.  It could make one reader compatible with just about everything.

This also meant that Square could keep the costs of its service low, and deliver its basic reader for free, making the service appealing and available to a huge range of small businesses, from coffee shops to crafters. The ability to accept credit card payments securely and easily has been a major advantage to many businesses, saving them from the hefty fees other companies not only charge for processing, but also to acquire their card reader devices and services (or even maintain landline or internet access to transmit payments — not necessary with Square, which can easily transmit payments via cellular networks).

Apple is now changing the game out from under Square, and other such card reader devices.

Yes, currently there will continue to be more Apple devices with a headphone jack than without, and currently the new iPhones (and presumably new iPads, if they take the same route) will offer an adapter… but one thing Apple does is never look back from a change. It stands to reason that they will work to completely phase headphone jacks out of all devices and rely solely on the proprietary Lightning connector from here on out.

This means that eventually Square will be forced to sign up for Apple’s MFi program (and pay any associated licensing fees) in order to create a reader compatible with Lightning connectors, and then offer two options: a universal (except Apple) reader, and a Lightning connector reader. The development and licensing costs alone will mean that Square will almost certainly no longer be able to offer free card readers, the very thing that has made them the industry standard for accepting mobile payments, and a favorite for small and micro businesses.

The alternative is that Square (and other companies) will simply have to ditch the heaphone jack magstrip reader entirely. Square already offers a wireless reader that accepts chipped cards and Apple pay, but at the cost of $50. They could also potentially go a Bluetooth route for their basic reader. But either way, there is almost no way going forward that Square will be able to offer an option to Apple users (possibly any users) that is free.

In one fell swoop, Apple has shaken up the small business world. Only time will tell whether or not this will negatively impact small business growth, or if it does, to what degree.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 2 Comments


2 Responses to “Square will no longer have a Round hole to fit in…”
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  1. I had this same thought as my wife relies on that card reader for her voice and piano studio. Thankfully, the Lightning to Headphone adapter included in the box of the iPhone 7 (and sold for $9 separately) allows the Square reader to still work.

    Source: http://www.macworld.com/article/3117649/hardware/dont-worry-squares-card-reader-works-with-apples-iphone-7-headphone-jack-adapter.html

    That said, we’ll eventually pick up the chip/NFC puck from Square as that is the way all payments are heading in the next few years. And since I work in the InfoSec field, I say good riddance to magstripe as it is a huge security hole for finances (not as bad as checks, though). But until that day comes, the trusty Square reader will work with the little adapter.

    • The other issue here is that this decision goes way beyond just card readers. Being the powerful market influence that they are, Apple has just forcibly changed the game for *ALL* companies relying on the standard headphone jack. Most notably, of course, headphone makers.

      The fact that Apple is offering an adapter with the iPhone 7 is clearly just a stopgap to stave off backlash. But if there’s one thing that goes 1000% against the design ethos of Apple, it’s the notion of any kind of adapter.

      It remains to be seen, but it would not surprise me at all if this were the only device going forward in which Apple includes the free adapter. In any case, it certainly won’t be an ongoing thing for long (in device cycle terms). Apple will do everything it can to discourage the use of the adapter — because it’s an ugly solution.

      But this poses a problem for a HUGE industry of devices, of which actual headphones are the lion’s share of that industry.

      Right now, Bluetooth isn’t magic. It isn’t even all that good. They keep promising the next iteration will only get better, but right now it’s only a promise. And when it works, it sucks battery life, which is no small issue, especially when it comes to power users, for whom the notion of a day without the need to recharge their phone is an amusing joke. Adding to the battery life frustration, if users want to go wireless, now they have one more thing to have to remember to charge. That’s one thing if you willingly buy into the Bluetooth ecosystem. It’s another to be shoved into it by your phone.

      And to not use Bluetooth? Good luck, because now you can choose to either use your attached device, or charge your phone. Not both. At least not until even UGLIER splitter adapters are available. Because Apple decided to further limit device ports on their device without even the common courtesy of introducing wireless charging to pick up the slack. I feel like Steve Jobs would be spinning in his grave at the notion of the inelegance of it all.

      But now all headphone makers will be faced with the decision to either invest in the necessary licensing to create a Lightning port solution for their headphones, go all in on Bluetooth, or simply ignore Apple altogether (or let customers go with Apple or other third party adapters).

      Whichever way they go, one thing is almost certain: the entire industry of headphones likely just got a little more pricey going forward for everyone.


Studio Orange one of the best in the area!

The other day I woke up to the nice surprise in my inbox.

But let me back up. I don’t really pursue awards all that enthusiastically. It’s not that I don’t want the recognition. Rather, I feel there are better ways to spend my energy. Like making great photos for my clients.

Even so, being recognized is pretty cool.

I found an e-mail telling me that Studio Orange Photography had been recognized as one of the top 20 wedding photographers in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Expertise, the company who put this together, apparently scoured all of the wedding photographers they could find for the Lincoln area – more than 250 of them. Then they narrowed it down to the 20 they felt were the best.

It’s a bit astonishing to think that anyone has to wade through more than 250 options when looking for their wedding photographer, but that’s the state of the industry these days.  It’s almost like the instruction manual says “Step 1: unbox your camera; Step 2: Open a business.” And 250 is just the ones Expertise found. I’m pretty sure as I write this that 3 more photo business pages on Facebook were created.

One reason I generally don’t put a lot of effort into pursuing awards is exactly that: pursuing them. A lot of “Best Of” awards depend a lot on votes. They become less about who actually offers the very best service, and are more about what companies are better able to get people to vote for them. A smaller company doesn’t stand a chance merely because it’s small. For example, I’ve seen a local grocery store chain awarded as the best caterer solely because they have the largest customer (voter) base, not because they actually provide the best food.

This company, Expertise, independently put together their list. They came to this website, read through my blogs, looked at the photos, and looked up reviews.

And still I was named one of the top 20.

Also, looking through the list, I feel pretty good about it. Were I to put together a list of the best wedding photographers in Lincoln, I think my list would look pretty similar to this.

All in all, validation feels pretty cool. And congrats to all of the other photographers who made the list, too!

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Choose Your Photographer the Right Way


Let’s talk about how to choose your photographer.*

Here’s the ideal: You find the photographer you love, money’s no object, done deal.

The reality? Very few of us have unlimited resources. Suddenly your years of playing resource management video games are put fully to the test. Except in this game, you can’t just mine for more resources.

“Budget” becomes the word you repeat so often you start to say it in your sleep.

So your wedding needs a photographer. What do you do?

Good thing you’re reading this, because I’m going to tell you. (Spoiler alert: The answer isn’t just “hire Studio Orange,” although that *is* a great idea…)


Step 1: Determine the importance of photography to you, then allocate a portion of your total budget accordingly.

Emily-Morgan_Studio-OrangeBasically, that’s just a complicated way of saying you need to figure out how much you want to spend on your wedding photographer.

Regardless of how much your total budget is, it’s important to determine your priorities. Is photography more important to you than, say, food and alcohol?  Or is it the other way around?

Figuring out how much of your budget you want to spend on any particular aspect of your wedding is just common sense. It applies whether you’re dealing with a $10,000 wedding or a $100,000 one.

Try not to commit to so much of an exact dollar amount, but a range. For example, if you’d feel comfortable spending about $3000 on your wedding photographer, you’ll be better off if you say that your range is $2500 to $3500.

And be realistic.

Make sure this is not only the amount you can allocate to your photographer, but the amount you want to allocate for photography. You should feel confident and comfortable with whatever you decide.


Step 2 (the hard part): Once you’ve got your budget allocated for your photographer, FORGET ABOUT THE MONEY.

This is the part that trips a lot of people up. Most of us are able to figure out step 1 pretty easily. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

But not focusing on the money when it comes time to actually start your hunt for a photographer, that’s when it gets tricky.

Here’s the thing, though: Once you know how much you can spend, the only thing that matters at that point is whether or not you love the photos.

All too often I see couples fall into the following trap: “You know, honey, I really love [Photographer A] and they are in our budget, but [Photographer B] is $200 cheaper.

And I get it. Weddings are expensive, and so opportunities to save money are seductive.

But 10 years from now, you’re not going to care if you saved $200. You’re going to care if you love the photos. Or more to the point, if you DON’T love them.

Choose your photographer based on the work. Based on if you think you’ll get along with them on your wedding day. Based on experience. In short, based on the things that will matter.

Saving a little bit of money by choosing someone slightly less expensive won’t necessarily get you better photos. Basing your decision at this point on who is cheaper is really often only a race to the bottom.

This is why it’s important to not only be realistic with the range you allocated in step 1, but to also be comfortable with spending within that range.

Make sure you really can afford the amount you set so that when it comes time to make your decision, it isn’t about nitpicking the money you’re spending, but about focusing on the work you’re getting.

Simple, right?



* I’ve focused this on photography, because that’s what I do. Really, though, this advice applies to every aspect of allocating money to your wedding planning.

Posted in Tips | 1 Comment


One Response to “Choose Your Photographer the Right Way”
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  1. Robert, thank you for writing this. It’s spot-on. As a wedding professional myself, I see so many people basing their decisions on pricing alone and, as you say, it’s a “race to the bottom” from there. When my own daughter got married in 2012, the photography portion of the budget took top priority and we worked everything around it–knowing that it would be the only thing left after the day of the event was over! She’s been very happy with that decision.