The EU wants Apple to change the iPhone's charger, again

From Francesco Guarascio's "EU to propose legislation on common mobile charger in Sept - source," which moved Thursday on the Reuters wire:

The European Commission will next month present legislation to establish a common charger for mobile phones and other electronic devices within the 27-nation bloc, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The move will affect iPhone maker Apple more than its rivals. IPhones and most of Apple's products are powered by its Lightning cable, whereas Android devices are powered by USB-C connectors.

Half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the European Union in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector while 29% had a USB C connector and 21% a Lightning connector, a Commission impact assessment study in 2019 found.

The EU executive is currently drafting the legislation, the source said, without giving further details. Lawmakers at the European Parliament last year voted overwhelmingly in favour of a common charger, citing environmental benefits and convenience to users...

Apple warned that the EU push for a common charger would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronic waste if consumers were forced to switch to new chargers.

My take: Forced to switch to new chargers? A mountain of electronic waste? Apple's customers know what that's like.

12 Comments

  1. Joe Murphy said:
    @ My Take: “Forced to switch chargers …. A mountain of electronic waste …Apple’s customers know what that’s like.”

    No PED, we don’t!

    We know what it’s like to have a choice!

    To choose continue using reliable older tools or capitalize and empower ourselves with newer developments.

    Just like we do with our cars and other useful items and tools important to us and make our lives easier or more convenient for ourselves, family and others.

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    August 13, 2021
    • “I’m a bit confused. There was the old wide (30 bit?) connectors, my old iPod 160 uses that. There’s the Lightning connector. And now USB-C. What am I missing?”

      My mountain of used connectors dates back to the Apple II.

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      August 13, 2021
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    At some expense I had a 120v AC outlet installed in my 1997 Town & Country mini van. Changing the radio every time Apple changed cables was far more expensive. Then because I have three floors of living space I have chargers for my iPhone and iPad on all three levels.

    This isn’t about consumer convenience, it’s about land fills. Consumer convenience is a red herring. A better solution, if the EU thinks there too many chargers going to land fills, is to sell them separately. Consumers would buy them as needed, just as I do.

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    August 13, 2021
  3. David Emery said:
    I’m a bit confused. There was the old wide (30 bit?) connectors, my old iPod 160 uses that. There’s the Lightning connector. And now USB-C. What am I missing?

    Now the various power adapters have increased their power production as time goes on (and I bought a pair of the newest Anker chargers, a dual port for the travel bag and a single port for the primary home charging station.) Past that, I’ve accumulated chargers mostly as a matter of convenience, rather than necessity.

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    August 13, 2021
  4. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “Apple warned that the EU push for a common charger would hurt innovation and create a mountain of electronic waste if consumers were forced to switch to new chargers.”

    Wow…if that doesn’t sound like a lame argument coming from an attorney practicing his first case.

    Apple is starting to implement USB-C, but they need to go full-monte.

    It needs to be the standard and, yes, there will be a terrific angst-bomb dropped in the next charger-dump moment heard ‘round the world but it will finally become the homogeneous standard that the world can FINALLY embrace for a decent foreseeable future.

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    August 13, 2021
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      “finally become the homogeneous standard that the world can FINALLY embrace for a decent foreseeable future.”

      It seems like every time a new standard/plug-in comes out, we hear this argument in one form or another. And it’s true, until the next standard comes out…

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      August 13, 2021
  5. Daniel Epstein said:
    This is a classic Tail Wagging the Dog situation. Now standards can be good for businesses to make money and provide products that play well with others but it is unlikely in this case that the intended effect will be the only one. Does the European Union have any large phone maker companies at this point? If Apple has to design a European model to abide by this law I am sure it will slow down that markets product availability and likely increase cost unless by some miracle they pick a connector which Apple and Samsung can both live with. So who are they helping? Nokia? If they are so concerned about E waste maybe they should make rules about the recyclability of the products. Frankly I would think they should go for wireless charging standards if they want to have universal compatibility as most portable devices will be heading in that direction.

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    August 13, 2021
  6. Gregg Thurman said:
    I’ve been thinking about this, and efforts to breakup AppleTV App Store.

    Consumer habits are hard to break. If they’re happy it’s very hard.

    Let’s suppose legislation successfully forces Apple to allow purchases from stores other than Apple’s App Store. What happens then?

    Will App prices decline? Maybe, but I doubt it. Developer fees may decline, but they aren’t going to pass along the the savings.

    Will consumers trust the new Stores to properly curate Apps for malware and tracking mechanisms? I don’t think so. Besides, new Stores won’t have the resources to do it as well as Apple, and we know Apple isn’t perfect.

    Will developers abandon Apple’s App Store for a new no-name Store? Not in our lifetime.

    The only remaining issue is the insertion of alternate payment systems within the App Store, and I have found absolutely no precedent that would allow this to happen.

    Arguments that breaking up Apple’s App Store will lead to greater innovation is pure, politically motivated hogwash. Before the App Store developers were stymied by the LACK of a central market, and innovation was none existent.

    I’d really like to see Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn‘s campaign contributions receipts. Their arguments in favor of breaking up Apple’s App Store are just to meandering and totally without merit to be anything other than appeasing a major contributor(s).

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    August 13, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      @Gregg: You can find every single contribution to Blumenthal’s or Blackburn’s campaign committees over $200 at either fec dot gov (Federal Elections Commish) or opensecrets dot org (which is a non-profit that uses exactly the same data but allows it to be searched in different ways and provides some basic “analysis”. You can search by name, employer, zip code of donors, etc. Many of the congress critters also have so-called “Leadership PACS”, which carry a whole ‘nother set of donors. It can be a bit cumbersome to learn how best to use these sites, but they provide a wealth of information of the kinds you seek…

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      August 13, 2021
    • John Butt said:
      You forgot the non-US markets, will Apple treat them like your government wants your country treated or will they have a Unique US solution while continuing to offer the standard App Store worldwide. US law is not World law.

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      August 13, 2021
  7. Gregg Thurman said:
    Leadership PACS are where the influence monies are hidden.

    2
    August 13, 2021
  8. David Drinkwater said:
    If USB-C doesn’t hinder technological development, I see little reason why Apple would fight it. I remember vaguely the process of standardizing all my iOS devices on Lightning from 30 pin. That mission has been accomplished, and I have a boatload of unified power cables in my iPad shoulder bag.. But now my Mac is USB-C. I have a USB-C power block to which I connect a USC-C straight through cable or a USB-C to Lightning cable, depending on what I’m charging. And some of the power cables in my iPad bag are USB-C, because they change my devices faster. The world won’t end with Lightning (well, maybe thunder and lightning). I think the USB-C form-factor has a lot of longevity built/designed in.

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    August 13, 2021

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