Apple says a common charger would handicap innovation, inflate waste

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2020
Apple has hit back at new proposals by European lawmakers to force smartphone and other device producers to use a universal standard charger, claiming attempts to make it switch from Lightning to another type of connection could cause consumer aggravation and stifle innovation.




On January 13, the European Commission and the European Parliament reignited plans to reduce the amount of electronic waste generated by unwanted chargers, by making device producers use the same connections. The decade-old idea that has repeatedly resurfacedhad the intention to cut the number of connections to devices down, and after some urging, vendors are now largely down to using a few versions of USB, and in Apple's case, Lightning.

The recent discussions suggested further pressure could be applied to make the use of a common charger more widespread. "We will look at a combination of policy options, including regulatory and non-regulatory measures to achieve our objectives," said EC inter-institutional relations and foresight vice president Maros Sefcovic, proposing it would be convenient to consumers and minimize electronic waste.

Following a flood of reports accusing Europe of forcing Apple to migrate from Lightning, the iPhone maker has issued its first statement on the matter, reports the Financial Times. Eliminating Lightning, it believes, would cause inconvenience to hundreds of millions of consumers, as well as producing an "unprecedented volume" of electronic waste in the process of moving over to another connection.

"We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphone stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole," Apple wrote. "We hope the Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry's ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to customers."

Apple also commissioned a study by Copenhagen Electronics in December about connectors, and determined that 49% of households use different connector types, but only 0.4% report they "regularly experience any significant issue" with charging devices due to incompatibilities.

For electronic waste, Apple argues the wide number of accessories that use Lightning connections, including in-car adapters and speakers with docking facilities, would be added to the trash pile because of the connector.

It is arguable that Apple has already primed the pump for a changeover to USB-C, as it has done so for the iPad Pro lineup. However, reports about such a change for the iPhone 11 and other models were cut down, supposedly due to a need to avoid antagonizing customers, and to minimize costs.

By switching to a single industry-wide connection, regulatory rules forcing the use of one connection could arguably make it harder to develop a new version that everyone can agree to use, but this doubt has been dismissed by the Commission. "Any better-performing new charging solution would be welcome as long as it is a common charging solution," said Sefcovic.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 100
    netroxnetrox Posts: 998member
    I don't buy Apple's argument. We need the universal charger. USB-C is the appropriate standard for data and up to 100W of power. A lot of cable waste has already been made for Apple devices when all mobile devices could benefit from just USB-C cable. Apple's Lightning cables are notorious for inferior quality and they quickly fray leading to unnecessary waste. If users decide to switch, they still keep the same cable thus less waste.
    napoleon_phoneapartneo-techdysamoriacaladanianFileMakerFelleragilealtituderepressthismpw_amherstbigpicspulseimages
  • Reply 2 of 100
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,027member
    You want to include CE-waste then stop including a 5W PSU with every iPhone purchase. Make it an optional add-on for a nominal fee like other iPhone accessories.
    avon b7neo-techuraharachiamattinozcy_starkmanagilealtitudektappewatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 100
    Apple is rumored to be eliminating the charging port altogether in 2021 for some models. Their plan is likely to keep lightning ports while the transition occurs, and eventually includes all models.
    bigpics
  • Reply 4 of 100
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    The EU has zero jurisdiction over the USA, and I reject all of their ridiculous anti-innovation, anti-freedom, anti-consumer, anti-tech and anti-business proposals.

    They can go stuff their miserable ideas where the sun doesn't shine.

    The notion that a bunch of EU corrupt bureaucrats who know nothing about tech and have never created anything useful in their entire lives shall decide standard charger rules for everybody to follow is something that all American companies should flat out reject and simply tell them all to go and take a hike.

    A company should be free to decide which tech and which standards to implement in their own products and Apple has been doing just fine for many, many decades without any EU bureaucrats deciding how Apple should make their products.

    I trust Apple infinitely more than the EU. I don't have many good things to say about the EU.

    I use USB, I use USB-C, I use Lightning, hell, I still use Firewire on a few older devices I have.

    This dumb EU idea will definitely stifle innovation. If they want to live like cavemen, then go right ahead, but leave the US out of it, because we will not abide by their rules.

    The EU can get lost.
    edited January 2020 mwhiteJWSCentropyscornchipd_2lkrupprazorpitjbaughinside_lineanantksundaram
  • Reply 5 of 100
    nrg2nrg2 Posts: 7member
    USB-C is hardly the answer. The company I work for uses brand “D” computers which have all switched over to a USB-C docking station. The connections are constantly breaking both on the dock side and the internal minuscule tab inside the port. Lightning as a port is far more robust. As for the cable fraying issue - in 10 years of using iPhones and iPads I have never had one fray. I know I’ve seen other people do it - just can’t figure out what they are doing to make that happen. But that technically wouldn’t be too difficult to make more sturdy for those trying to use their cables as lassoes.
    urahararazorpitwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 100
    “Any better-performing new charging solution would be welcome as long as it is a common charging solution," said Sefcovic.

    Be welcomed by the State, presumably. So now innovation will need permission by the State. Can you imagine the hoops you’d have to jump through, the time it would take, the bribery that would become endemic, in order to change a “standard”? 

    So what about existing devices? I guess we’d be forced to use a dongle....

    Oh, wait. That would increase the electronic waste!


    JWSCuraharaentropysrepressthisrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 100
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 500member
    Would be nice if the response was to open up Lightning so other companies could start using it. It's significantly better than USB-C for phones. Both the plug and socket are more physically robust.

    USB-C can do more, but it's disappointing how fragile the plug is and how easy it is to clog the socket with dirt.
    repressthisrazorpitjbdragonwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 100
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 881member
    This is exactly why the EU economy has been and will remain sclerotic compared with the US.  Apple ][ above is spot on.  I could not have said it better.
    apple ][entropysrazorpitanantksundaramjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 100
    M68000M68000 Posts: 329member
    I’m happy with Apple having it’s own hardware, it’s one of the thing that makes Apple great.  “Think different” as the motto goes.  Lightning connector has been great to use.  As for cutting down on waste - one idea is to stop shipping new power cords and VGA cable in new monitors - usually a complete waste.  I see that often where I work.  People generally have a power cord already and are now using digital connection- VGA has done it’s job but it’s time to move on.
    edited January 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 100
    Apple is rumored to be eliminating the charging port altogether in 2021 for some models. Their plan is likely to keep lightning ports while the transition occurs, and eventually includes all models.
    I agree, as wireless charging improves and become more wide spread, Apple will likely get rid of lightning port. Therefore temporary transition to USB-C doesnt make sense. 

    What would be the advantages of removing the lightening port, can it lead to better water/dust resistance? Does it save space inside the phone for other stuff?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 100
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    apple ][ said:
    The EU has zero jurisdiction over the USA, and I reject all of their ridiculous anti-innovation, anti-freedom, anti-consumer, anti-tech and anti-business proposals.

    They can go stuff their miserable ideas where the sun doesn't shine.

    The notion that a bunch of EU corrupt bureaucrats who know nothing about tech and have never created anything useful in their entire lives shall decide standard charger rules for everybody to follow is something that all American companies should flat out reject and simply tell them all to go and take a hike.

    A company should be free to decide which tech and which standards to implement in their own products and Apple has been doing just fine for many, many decades without any EU bureaucrats deciding how Apple should make their products.

    I trust Apple infinitely more than the EU. I don't have many good things to say about the EU.

    I use USB, I use USB-C, I use Lightning, hell, I still use Firewire on a few older devices I have.

    This dumb EU idea will definitely stifle innovation. If they want to live like cavemen, then go right ahead, but leave the US out of it, because we will not abide by their rules.

    The EU can get lost.
    The whole issue was caused by the industry, not the EU. The industry was using chargers as a lock-in on each company's chargers.

    It was the EU which had a large hand in putting a stop to that but chose to allow the industry to regulate itself rather than legislating.

    It was the EU which also brought us RoHS and WEEE, this time through legislation.

    Both directives have had a worldwide impact but are only applicable within the EU. Of course other nations and companies have had to adapt to these rules if they want to do business in the EU and many choose to apply them to their non-EU business. That's good for everyone.

    Amazon pages in the EU for example often carry WEEE info.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201819410

    We'll see where this EU review ends but Apple shipping millions of 5W chargers in the box in 2020, really should look into how many of them actually get used.
    edited January 2020 dysamoriaFileMakerFellerrepressthisCarnageWarrenBuffduckhdarkvaderLeoMC
  • Reply 12 of 100
    uraharaurahara Posts: 525member
    sacto joe said:
    “Any better-performing new charging solution would be welcome as long as it is a common charging solution," said Sefcovic.

    Be welcomed by the State, presumably. So now innovation will need permission by the State. Can you imagine the hoops you’d have to jump through, the time it would take, the bribery that would become endemic, in order to change a “standard”? 

    So what about existing devices? I guess we’d be forced to use a dongle....

    Oh, wait. That would increase the electronic waste!


    Exactly. 

    Moreover, the new better chariging solution won’t be common. 
    So those words:
    “Any better-performing new charging solution would be welcome as long as it is a common charging solution," said Sefcovic.
    are just nonsense. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 100
    uraharaurahara Posts: 525member

    nrg2 said:
    USB-C is hardly the answer. The company I work for uses brand “D” computers which have all switched over to a USB-C docking station. The connections are constantly breaking both on the dock side and the internal minuscule tab inside the port. Lightning as a port is far more robust. As for the cable fraying issue - in 10 years of using iPhones and iPads I have never had one fray. I know I’ve seen other people do it - just can’t figure out what they are doing to make that happen. But that technically wouldn’t be too difficult to make more sturdy for those trying to use their cables as lassoes.
    I suggest the new USB-C 2.0 standard to have the lightning form factor. 
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 100
    neilmneilm Posts: 874member
    As usual, XKCD got there first:
    https://xkcd.com/927/
    radarthekat
  • Reply 15 of 100
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,206member
    apple ][ said:
    The EU has zero jurisdiction over the USA, and I reject all of their ridiculous anti-innovation, anti-freedom, anti-consumer, anti-tech and anti-business proposals.

    They can go stuff their miserable ideas where the sun doesn't shine.

    The notion that a bunch of EU corrupt bureaucrats who know nothing about tech and have never created anything useful in their entire lives shall decide standard charger rules for everybody to follow is something that all American companies should flat out reject and simply tell them all to go and take a hike.

    A company should be free to decide which tech and which standards to implement in their own products and Apple has been doing just fine for many, many decades without any EU bureaucrats deciding how Apple should make their products.

    I trust Apple infinitely more than the EU. I don't have many good things to say about the EU.

    I use USB, I use USB-C, I use Lightning, hell, I still use Firewire on a few older devices I have.

    This dumb EU idea will definitely stifle innovation. If they want to live like cavemen, then go right ahead, but leave the US out of it, because we will not abide by their rules.

    The EU can get lost.
    That post... is... classic You.
    repressthisrazorpitCarnageGeorgeBMacchemengin1anantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 100
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,206member
    adnan said:
    Apple is rumored to be eliminating the charging port altogether in 2021 for some models. Their plan is likely to keep lightning ports while the transition occurs, and eventually includes all models.
    I agree, as wireless charging improves and become more wide spread, Apple will likely get rid of lightning port. Therefore temporary transition to USB-C doesnt make sense. 

    What would be the advantages of removing the lightening port, can it lead to better water/dust resistance? Does it save space inside the phone for other stuff?
    This would be entirely counterproductive if they did it on iPads, since people need to connect a lot of other things other than chargers (musicians, for example).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 100
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,206member
    Anyway, I’m with the EU here. Apple’s excuses are typical laissez-faire corporatist BS memes. Stifle innovation, my ass. Lightning is a fine connector, IMO, but USB-C can replace it. For everything. Apple themselves are already in the process of doing this (hello loss of dedicated charging port on Macbooks), so why are they bitching about it being regulated into uniformity with universal power supplies?

    Corporations want to have control over everything (regardless of how harmful it is in the long term to humanity and our environment)... and they nearly already do.
    darkvader
  • Reply 18 of 100
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,886member
    Yes, Apple will just go port less and laugh at these stupid euroweenie bureaucrats.

    I also can’t follow the euroweenie’s argument that this dictate would reduce e waste. It isn’t like there will be less cables and chargers (edit: unless this meddler also dictated phones are sold without chargers, raising costs for everyone, tho cost of chargers being a quite trivial concern for one so deservedly being paid a euroweenie salary). In fact the compulsory conversion would create accelerated waste itself.
    Someone could argue for a better performing port, sure, but the market will decide what that is one hell of a lot better than an EU bureaucrat, whose only purpose on this planet is, apart from tax hoovering, indulging their desire to micromanage the little people.
    edited January 2020 ArianneFeldryrepressthisJWSCanantksundaramwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 100
    Arguably no port and no cables are the future and best option.

    The EU proposal seems redundant/outdated and about as logical as requiring all phones to be the same size so we could use the same phone cases from brand to brand, it's just overreach and purism.

    When we think about power: there isn't even a standard power socket, not globally, and not even across the EU, so why are we giving so much importance to this idea when a number of different chargers will always be needed.

    Furthermore smart phones are not devices which rely on a shared charging solution, nor are they devices which are frequently moved from person to person - so there is actually no real inconvenience of having different chargers - it's the same way that I can't plug my microwave into a USB slot, or feed my car hay and carrots.

    All of this effort would make more sense for electric cars, since they'd need to use a network of charging stations which should work with all models of electric car and currently there is an obscene number of charging plugs for cars.

    Also for those people banging on about USB-C, well yes you can already charge your iPhone with the USB C to lightning cable, but that's not the point, the point is that the 32-pin iPod connector was once state of the art technology, we aren't solving anything by choosing a standard today that will invariably be replaced.
    FileMakerFellerJWSCrazorpitradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 100
    apple ][ said:
    The EU has zero jurisdiction over the USA, and I reject all of their ridiculous anti-innovation, anti-freedom, anti-consumer, anti-tech and anti-business proposals.

    This dumb EU idea will definitely stifle innovation. If they want to live like cavemen, then go right ahead, but leave the US out of it, because we will not abide by their rules.
    Then stay in whatever country you live and don't move to any EU county, or worse to USA where in many southern and mid-western states companies as Tesla aren't even allowed to sell their cars, or even worse than that in some states where Tesla isn't even allowed to service cars.
    FileMakerFellerdarkvader
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