EU Commission might go after Apple's Lightning Connector

Joanna Estrada
August 10, 2018

The study will help the Commission decide whether action is necessary to implement a universal phone charger.

For almost a decade the European Commission has lobbied for a common mobile charging standard, asserting over 51,000 tons of electronic waste gathers yearly from old chargers.

In 2009, tech giants Apple, Nokia, and Samsung signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to use a standardized micros USB connector. The deadline passed, and while similar letters of intent emerged in 2013 and 2014, the frustration of iPhones and Android devices having different chargers continues to plague the digital society.

Of course, besides USB-C and micro-USB, the only real proprietary connector in the market remaining is Apple's Lightning, making the company the clear target of the investigation.

The EU's competition chief Margrethe Vestager said on August 1st in the EU Congress that the European Commission "will shortly launch and impact assessment study [on the mobile charger situation] to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options", as reported by Reuters. The Commission claims the situation generates more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste yearly, mostly from old chargers that users dispose of.

And seeing as the companies haven't voluntarily signed up to use the same charging port, the European Union is looking at other methods. Fast charging formats only added more confusion, as the standard USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) format coexists with Qualcomm's proprietary Quick Charge technology, which started to be compatible with the USB-PD only in the 4.0 version.

The word "study" shouldn't put Apple at ease since that's the last stage that the Commission uses to determine how to punish those who don't comply, and at the end of the process, there is usually legislation that will be enforced in one way or another.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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