Apple warns against forcing it to drop Lightning cable

Joanna Estrada
January 24, 2020

It also points out that over half of European Union households already have just one type of device connector across all of their mobile devices, so in other words they are either an Apple household, or they use USB-C or micro USB to charge their devices - but usually one type.

However, in a statement to Reuters, Apple said, "We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation".

The biggest offender is, of course, Apple, whose proprietary Lightning technology clashes with the more open USB standard.

According to estimates, old chargers generate more than 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year.

In a statement Apple took issue with the push, saying it will stifle innovation and causes issues for the installed base of Lightning phones and accessories. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.

European Parliament recently discussed the possibility of making smartphone makers use a common charging port, which could force Apple to adopt the USB-C. Apple believes the "Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry's ability to innovate". It also seems to believe that as everyone is headed in the direction of USB-C, this kind of mandate isn't necessary. Especially when it took almost half a decade for device and accessory manufacturers to get their act together and adopt USB-C in the first place.

Apple is indeed correct in that forcing a drastic, legislated switch to USB-C would render all of its Lightning-based hardware somewhat useless. This includes Apple's USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices.

The United in Diversity report argues further that the environmental benefits of a common charger are relatively small - €13m compared to €1.5bn in "innovation harm".

This isn't the EU's first run at the problem: in 2009, phone companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to working toward a common charger under threat of regulation from the European Commission.

While many went on to adopt micro-USB, Apple went ahead with its own Lightning port in 2012 and sold a micro-USB adaptor instead. While the majority of recent high-end smartphones have adopted USB-C, most mid-range and entry-level models still stick to micro USB.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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