Since Apple decided to ditch the 30-pin dock connector, many people are curious as to why they went with their own custom connector when the Micro USB standard allows for a tiny connector. Well, as Rainer Brockerhoff points out, Micro USB just doesn’t have enough features.
Micro USB has five pins: a power pin, a ground pin, two pins for data, and a sense pin. It just doesn’t support all of the features that Apple wanted to implement in their connector technology. Also worth noting is that current Micro USB connectors can’t push through enough juice to power the iPad at full speed. It does make sense that Apple needed to make their own connector if they wanted to push the envelope as they always do. Lightning has the ability to do what Micro USB can’t.
That said, there is another benefit to having your own custom Lightning connector: control. If other companies want to work with iPhones, iPods, and iPads, they are going to need to license Lightning from Apple. While this is undoubtedly a fringe benefit, I think we can all agree that Apple wouldn’t sacrifice the quality of their devices for a license fee. If Micro USB was truly better, Apple would just use it — plain and simple. As it stands, Apple gets the best of both worlds: the best connector and complete control. You can’t really argue with that strategy.