How will Apple get around the EU’s Procrustean port?

From Tom Warren’s “The EU’s USB-C proposal might give us a portless iPhone instead” posted Thursday on The Verge:

The European Commission has announced plans to force smartphone and other electronics manufacturers to fit a common USB-C charging port on their devices. Given that most Android-powered smartphones now ship with a USB-C port, the proposals could see Apple finally be forced to move to USB-C on the iPhone. Or they might not, as they could instead force Apple to deliver a portless iPhone.

Today’s proposals from the EU only cover wired charging and don’t seek to enforce rules on wireless charging just yet. A spokesperson for the Commission has confirmed to The Verge that if a device charges only wirelessly, then there is no requirement to integrate a USB-C charging port.

If the European Parliament adopts the proposals, manufacturers will have 24 months to comply with the new rules. That gives Apple a lot of time to create a portless iPhone if it wants to avoid USB-C altogether.

My take: I’m reminded of Procrustes, that legendary innkeeper with a guest bed designed to accommodate travelers of all sizes. He had the limbs of guests who were too tall chopped off and guests who were too short were stretched to fit.

In this story, Europe is Procrustes and Apple is the traveler, but I don’t see how Tim Cook can take this lying down.

12 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    We’ll have to read carefully to see if the EU law/regulation precludes shipping a USB-C to Lightning adapter. Telling companies how to design their products is likely to result in a legal challenge.

    7
    September 23, 2021
  2. Bruce Oran said:
    Now I finally see the wisdom of Brexit!

    6
    September 23, 2021
  3. Randy McCleary said:
    Port-free iPhone. I’m reminded that Lightning is not only for charging but also for several years of auto CarPlay connections. Only the newest cars are coming with wireless CarPlay & wireless charging. The risk is that older cars will not charge or interface with their new port-free iPhones.
    -RJ

    3
    September 23, 2021
  4. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    I wonder if Apple has already started on addressing this.
    Because waiting to do something about it is just …

    Procrustenation.

    5
    September 23, 2021
  5. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    What’s next? EU Commission/Parliament mandates that countries can only buy diesel powered submarines? Ridiculous!

    5
    September 23, 2021
  6. Bart Yee said:
    My mild dyslexia read this as how does Apple get around an EU shipping port that embraces Crabs, Lobsters, Shrimp and Krill? And I immediately thought “Well, Apple could offer cooking classes to go with HomeKit and Fitness+ classes. Otherwise, they’d have to Air Ship flash frozen iPhones to satisfy regional EU culinary demands and tastes.”

    Color me literature ignorant but gastronomically fixated.

    2
    September 23, 2021
  7. Daniel Epstein said:
    Apple has many options given their manufacturing and design prowess. They could make an EU phone as the market is big enough. Swap the lightning for USB C. Probably make the phone a bit thicker and give it a bigger battery at the same time. Given the two year lead time this seems like a likely solution. They also could eventually switch all the IPhones to USB C if the adapter solution is not accepted. Probably not a financial or big design hit. If they then decide to go portless in the future they can decide to not give the EU
    the same phone if the rules somehow preclude it. What will the EU do then? Who is responsible if a phone is broken using someone else’s charger! Who is going to certify the alternate USB C chargers will work properly with all kinds of phones? A think there will be many more problems than the EU regulators expect.

    2
    September 23, 2021
  8. Apple included USB 4 or USB-C on Mac already. There are patents on wireless charging systems where the device only needs to be in the same room, not precisely on the wireless charger. I just bought a $25 wireless car charger for my 2014 Honda dash. Technology always blows past attempts by legislators to corral it. Shutting the barn door now only demonstrates how clueless this EU committee really is. Most members of our Congress could not tell you what USB-C is.
    Procrustean makes me want to knead & bake a few loaves in a tandoori oven.

    1
    September 23, 2021
  9. Jerry Doyle said:
    David Emery is correct In saying “…. telling companies how to design their products is likely to result in a legal challenge.”

    I understand regulatory requirements relative to health and safety of the consumer. Telling a company how to design their products so as to compel the company into a singular mode of consumer offering does nothing for protecting the consumer. Besides, isn’t that anti-competitive forcing all companies into a singular mode of consumer offering? If the consumer doesn’t like a particular cable wiring system, then the consumer can choose to ignore one and choose the other(s). That’s competition between company offerings.

    We are transitioning into the modern wireless world anyway. Manufactured automobiles now provide for “wireless” charging. Soon, there will be wireless charging stations at service tables. Apple should proceed with moving to manufacturing a phone without ports. Yes, there will be some initial moaning as there were initial complaints when Apple removed the iPhones’ head jacks, but guess what? None of us (with the exception of the very few) ever look back to the days of headphone jacks. It is so very nice to go wireless with headphones.

    Clean and thin is my design and I say bring on that port-less new iPhone offering.

    2
    September 23, 2021
  10. Steven Philips said:
    @PED: All these comments and puns and NO recognition for your sly “take”? Lying down on the Procrustean bed! 🙂 Well done, I say!

    0
    September 24, 2021

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