Apple responded to the European Union’s call for companies to move to a common charger for smartphones. The company claimed that such a move would stifle innovation.
The European Union’s call for a common charger precedes the introduction of USB-C connector, which is now used in almost all Android smartphones, Apple computers, and the latest iPad Pro. The EU got an MoU signed in 2009, between four companies which included Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia, to work towards a common charging standard by 2011. It never worked out and now the EU wants to work on legislation to enforce this change.
However, Apple, understandably, is against this legislation as it believes that it will hamper stifle innovation. As per Reuters, Apple’s statement said:
“We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,”
“We hope the (European) Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate,”
Apple even commissioned a study by Copenhagen Economics, which said that moving to a common charger would cost at least 1.5 billion Euros, which is far beyond the meager 13 million euros they might save in environmental benefits. As Apple commissioned this study, take it with a grain of salt.
Another way to look at this situation is that a common charger might hold back the whole industry. For a long time, Android phones and devices were stuck with (some still are) MicroUSB, which was not only outdated, it was also slow. If a common charger like this becomes the norm, it would be difficult to push the whole industry forward with the latest innovations due to legislation that would slow everyone down.
However, from a consumer‘s perspective, it would be great for Apple to somehow move all iPhones to USB-C rather than sticking around with Lightning. Almost the whole Android smartphone industry has moved towards the USB-C standard, while Apple is the only major company that still relies on its own standard for smartphones. Although Apple was one of the first companies to introduce USB-C on computers, starting with the MacBook in 2015, its slow move towards USB-C has been a disappointing effort. The only Apple mobile device that ships with a USB-C connector is the iPad Pro, which was released in 2018. The company still uses the Lightning connector for all iPhones, iPod Touch and AirPods models.
It will be interesting to see whether the EU successfully passes the legislation or if tech companies like Apple can successfully oppose it.