Is the EU right in the cord war against Apple?
The EU and Apple have collided with our mobile chargers.
Apple dissects EU requests
The European Parliament has once again agreed to the requirement for a common standard for chargers, which is intended to facilitate users when changing mobile phones. Apple opposes the plans, citing that it inhibits innovation, annoys customers, and can be bad for the environment. As an example, it is stated that more than one billion units with lightning contact have been sold, and these chargers are at risk of being dumped. According to a study ordered by Apple, it would cost at least 1.5 billion euros to switch to a common standard.
You already realize it when you get home from the store. Your new Electrolux toaster cannot be plugged into your wall socket, which comes from Samsung.
You are wondering if you should get an adapter or give away the toaster to your sister, who has Electrolux wall plugs in her home.
No, fortunately, the world does not look like this. Our wall connectors are the same, no matter who made them and no matter how you live.
Standardization makes life easier for us consumers. We do not need to think about what the toaster is called or what brand it is, for example, on the ordinary incandescent lamp or AA battery.
However, a lack of standards leads to unnecessary hassle – many foreign travelers know this. For example, I write this chronicle during a trip in Buenos Aires, and because Argentina has its own (and very odd) standard for wall contacts, I had to start the journey by looking for adapters.
The tech world’s answer to Argentina is called Apple. Unlike everyone else, you do not use ordinary charging cords in their mobiles or tablets. Instead, the company has its own standard called Lightning, and all iPhone owners who have tried to charge a charge cord from someone who has Android (and vice versa) know how frustrating it is when it doesn’t fit.
But consumer frustration is a minor problem. Much more is about the environment. Considering how often we buy new mobiles, the result is millions of remaining and fully functional chargers.
This is something that the European Parliament has reacted to. They want to force all manufacturers to use the same connectors and sell mobiles without a charger – thus reducing garbage disposal.
Some details are not precise, but it is about making USB-c the standard, ie, the modern contact that more and more new technology gadgets use.
Apple opposes the idea, and they have gone to war against a common standard for mobile chargers.
Obviously, politicians make decisions at the cord level, but the EU is absolutely right. When standards are lacking, everyone loses.
I wish that the threat of legislation would cause the industry to take its own responsibility. If Apple, Samsung, and other tech giants agreed to move to a common standard and to stop sending unnecessary chargers, we would all be winners. It would be good for the environment as well as for us consumers.
Naive? Not at all! When it comes to wireless charging, this has happened. All major manufacturers, including Apple, use the so-called Qi Standard. It has been developed by the WPC consortium, of which everyone is a member.
If the industry could similarly agree on a wired standard, perhaps we would have to avoid legislation – and above all, the idea that there must be different charging cords soon felt completely crazy. Just as crazy as the idea that we couldn’t plug the toaster into any wall socket.