Apple’s Surreptitious Entry into the Mac Docking Station Market

Thunderbolt Display as a Docking Station for the MacBook Air and MacBook pro

I welcome Jeffrey Schoenberger to Macs in Law for his first guest blog post. I met Jeffrey a few years ago at a state bar presentation, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him and his passion for Macs. Here, Jeffrey answers a question I get a LOT from lawyers looking for a Mac-compatible docking station.  Jeffrey’s bio is at the end of the post. Also, please comment on the post if you found it helpful. And thank you for reading!

Docking stations have a mixed history on the Mac. From 1992 to 1997, Apple manufactured the PowerBook Duo line and a set of accompanying docking stations. The Duo docks functioned the same as modern PC docking stations and port replicators. They added additional connections and eliminated the plug-unplug routine. Once Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the Duo docks were shown the door.

Starting with the Wall Street/Main Street line of PowerBook G3s, Apple-blessed docking solutions vanished. Apple left the market to third parties to fill. One of the most prominent was BookEndz, which created a series of docking stations for PowerBooks and MacBooks. These solutions filled a gap, but did so awkwardly. Apple offered no engineering assistance and its placement of critical ports on both sides of the laptop meant that the user had to carefully align his computer so that each port precisely met its mate on the BookEndz unit. But, so long as Apple neglected the market, third parties would do what they could to fill a real need.

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