EU lawmakers snub Apple's pleas, overwhelmingly vote to push for charging cable standard

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2020
The European Parliament in a landslide vote on Thursday called on the EU Commission to adopt rules that would establish a common charger standard for mobile devices, guidelines Apple argues would stifle innovation and create waste.

Lightning


EU lawmakers voted 582-40 in favor of a resolution to spur action by the Commission on a single charging solution for smartphones. As noted by Reuters, the Commission, which drafts EU laws and acts as the body's executive branch, has been working toward a common charger for more than a decade.

The measure passed today calls for the adoption of an act relating to charger standardization and "harmonization" first introduced in 2014 or, in its place, the introduction of a similar legislative measure. Lawmakers call for a decision by July.

According to Parliament, there is now "an urgent need for EU regulatory action to reduce electronic waste, empower consumers to make sustainable choices, and allow them to fully participate in an efficient and well-functioning internal market."

Voluntary agreements between some tech companies have significantly decreased the number of charger types in circulation, but a common standard is elusive, the resolution notes. As such, consumers are faced with different types of chargers across the market and are sometimes forced to buy new chargers with each new device. Wireless chargers could be a solution, but lawmakers urge the Commission to be mindful of fragmentation and ensure that adopted standards work across multiple devices.

At its heart, the resolution is designed to cut down on e-waste. In 2016, Europe generated 12.3 million metric tons of e-waste, equivalent to an average of 16.6 kilograms per inhabitant. A common charger would relieve some of that burden, lawmakers say.

Shifting to a single standard would impact companies that utilize proprietary technology, with Apple being a particularly vulnerable target given its vast installed user base and reliance on the Lightning protocol. During an earnings conference call this week the company said it has more than 1.5 billion active devices in use around the world, a large percentage of which -- likely well above 900 million -- are iPhones.

Last week, Apple argued against the EU initiative, saying a move toward a common charger would "stifle innovation" and, ironically, result in more e-waste as existing iOS device users transition to a standard like USB-C.

"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 said in a statement. "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."

The European Parliament appears to directly address Apple's take in the resolution passed today, which reads, "[ ... ] the use of wireless charging technology entails additional potential benefits such as mitigating e-waste; highlights that many mobile telephones already use wireless charging methods and that fragmentation in this area should be avoided; calls, therefore, on the Commission to take measures to best ensure the interoperability of different wireless chargers with different mobile radio equipment."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 118
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,716member
    So up to this point, the standard was voluntarily Micro USB, which is in reality, the worst possible choice for a solution. Thanks EU!

    I'm not seeing how Apple's Lightning standard, introduced in September 2012 and already ubiquitous, as being the e-waste problem that the EU sees. Perhaps the best solution is USB-C with a sunset provision in a few years, but even then, I'm not seeing this as beneficial unless the law also forces manufacturers to leave out cable and charger entirely phone phone packaging, making it customer optional.
    edited January 2020 baconstangjony0randominternetpersonAnilu_777EsquireCatsbshankchiaJWSCshaminoviclauyyc
  • Reply 2 of 118
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,943member
    The EU should probably require all other electronic devices - from electric razors, battery chargers, etc... to all require USBc instead of proprietary ac-adapters before getting on Apple's case.

    Last time I checked... the EU decided micro USB was the best, which was actually the worst, most flimsy connection every.  I'm curious to see how Apple will respond to this.

    I think the Lightning connector is superior for a mobile device than even USBc.  Lightning is durable, very solid, and not prone to being damaged, whereas USBc - and the female port - is a bit more delicate.  

    That being said, I think Lightning came out when it did because USBc was not developed yet and Apple needed a replacement for their legacy 30-pin plug.  A part of me would like everything to be standardized to USBc as it would make my cable-management that much easier.  Just about everything else I use has been migrated to USBc now.
    edited January 2020 TomEtmaychiasuperkloton
  • Reply 3 of 118
    Just eliminate the charging port and go completely wireless. Problem solved. 
    DAalsethAnilu_777EsquireCatsJWSCHeliBumviclauyyc
  • Reply 4 of 118
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,989member
    So whatever these idiots decide is the “standard” Apple just makes and adapter tp convert it to Lighting. Mic drops. And after the charging port, then what? Screen size, resolution, features. What if they standardize on Android. Don’t laugh. You never know what bureaucrats will do in the name of the people.
    edited January 2020 jony0randominternetpersonmwhitepscooter63tmayjdwmarklarkAnilu_777bshankchia
  • Reply 5 of 118
    Wireless only?  Seriously?
    Go from some e-waste to power waste....great!

    Why can't the EU standardize the common outlets?  I get a PSU and it comes with one adaptor for the US and 5 others for EU and Asia (?)
    edited January 2020 dewmejony0mwhitepscooter63radarthekatAnilu_777bshankJWSCGG1shamino
  • Reply 6 of 118
    As long as Apple is involved in creating the standard I don’t see a problem.  There also has to be a timeframe before the requirement of a standard comes into effect.

    The new standard can’t just be USBc because it’s inferior to Lightning.

    They’ll take 5-10 years to come up with USBd and by that time it will be irrelevant, because most mobile devices will be wireless.

    The bigger problem will be laptop charging.  Will PCs (workstations) share the same cable?  That’s a lot of power going through them... I wonder how long cables will last.

    Lamps, clocks, etc.  Are we going to have a global standard wall jack?

    Seems like the EU is overreaching... even if the idea has merit.
    Anilu_777
  • Reply 7 of 118
    dewmedewme Posts: 4,182member
    It seems odd that mobile devices are being singled out for connector standardization when there are vastly more (in total) electrical devices of every possible type that ship with region specific electrical plugs, connectors, transformers, and in some cases specific requirements for the power characteristics coming from the mains, e.g., [email protected] Hz vs [email protected] Hz. One of the biggest space & waste offenders in my closet of stuff that should have already been thrown away are several pounds of wall warts, all manner of country specific power adapters (why do UK and Singapore wall plugs have to be of such Titanic proportions?), numerous remote controls, and vastly overdone plastic and paper+plastic packaging for products that are still under warranty that I may have to send back. 

    Speaking of adapters, why would Apple not be “allowed” to ship all EU-bound devices with a “EU standard” to Lightning adapter? I always despise having to use clumsy power plug adapters to convert the rather elegant North American plugs on my computers and devices to plug into the hugeass wonky monster plugs used in most (but not all) European and Asian countries. One of the pleasures of returning home from an overseas trip is being able to use a “normal” power plugs again, ones that plug into aesthetically pleasing and surprised-face looking wall outlets, versus massive plugs that also function as bludgeoning weapons and slot into ugly wall tunnels. 
    radarthekatbaconstangAnilu_777GG1shaminoviclauyycsuperkloton
  • Reply 8 of 118
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 690member
    Wireless only?  Seriously?
    Go from some e-waste to power waste....great!

    Why can't the EU standardize the common outlets?  I get a PSU and it comes with one adaptor for the US and 5 others for EU and Asia (?)
    Indeed: and for portable charging that’s awful. Instantly halves your available power through wireless inefficiency. 
    radarthekatbaconstangJWSCsuperklotonmicrobe
  • Reply 9 of 118
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,063member
    sflocal said:
    I think the Lightning connector is superior for a mobile device than even USBc.  Lightning is durable, very solid, and not prone to being damaged, whereas USBc - and the female port - is a bit more delicate.  
    Is this speculation, or do you have any actual data to back this up?

    lkrupp said:
    And after the charging port, then what? Screen size, resolution, features. What if they standardize on Android. Don’t laugh. You never know what bureaucrats will do in the name of the people.
    The bigger problem will be laptop charging.  Will PCs (workstations) share the same cable?  That’s a lot of power going through them... I wonder how long cables will last. Lamps, clocks, etc.  Are we going to have a global standard wall jack?
    Weird conspiracy theories, dudes.
    edited January 2020 microbe
  • Reply 10 of 118
    Had the law been there yesterday, micro USB would have stuck with us forever, preventing innovations such as MagSav. Now, USB-C has been declared the last wired charging standard.
    tmaydanhGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 118
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    Apple, announce that you are only interested in serving the civilized world and that you are pulling out of the dictatorship known as the EU effective immediately!

    I would be ok with that, and I’ll be ok with the large hit that it takes on the stock price in the short term. My shares would be just fine with that. Sometimes you just have to take a stand against evil and do what’s right.

    Congrats to the smart brits who have left those clowns! Apple can continue to do business as usual in the UK, and I suggest that all the rest can go pound sound. I would be ok if the entire EU switched to using only Android phones. The EU is not needed and is not relevant in the big scheme of things.
    jdwmarklarkAnilu_777seanjgeorgie01JWSCGG1razorpit
  • Reply 12 of 118
    davendaven Posts: 636member
    Am I missing something here? All phones can charge via usb. The only difference between them is the cord from the usb charger to the device which gets replaced fairly often because of fraying. 
    randominternetpersonpscooter63cy_starkmanbaconstangshaminotht
  • Reply 13 of 118
    I’m so happy the Brits said “enough of this [email protected] and left the EU. A bunch of idiots making decisions that entire countries and cultures need to adapt... sounds like a terrible idea. These fools have no idea what they’re even voting in.
    randominternetpersonjdwmarklarkanton zuykovseanjgeorgie01jimh2GG1shaminomrstep
  • Reply 14 of 118
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,587member
    dewme said:
    why do UK and Singapore wall plugs have to be of such Titanic proportions?

    The BS1363 plugs common in ex-British colonies are admittedly big, but there're plenty of reasons for it. It's quite widely regarded as one of the safest plugs in the world.

    ...numerous remote controls, and vastly overdone plastic and paper+plastic packaging for products that are still under warranty that I may have to send back. 

    I agree there are plenty of products that are overpackaged. But as long as it's 100% recyclable (by kerbside collections) then I don't think there's an issue. What is stupid are the cables/wall warts that come in their own pointless little plastic bag with tie-wraps for the cable. Totally unnecessary.

    the rather elegant North American plugs on my computers and devices to plug into the hugeass wonky monster plugs used in most (but not all) European and Asian countries. One of the pleasures of returning home from an overseas trip is being able to use a “normal” power plugs again, ones that plug into aesthetically pleasing and surprised-face looking wall outlets, versus massive plugs that also function as bludgeoning weapons and slot into ugly wall tunnels.  
    While the US style plugs may be "elegant", they're actually pretty crap - especially the two prong no earth ones. If you stand on the cable near the plug, the prongs can snap off and leave live prongs stuck out. The sockets quickly wear out so that wall warts won't stay in the socket, and just drop out on the floor. Most sockets aren't phased, so live-neutral reverse is possible, and also they aren't usually earthed. The 110VAC supply is less efficient too because there's more power drop in the cables due to higher current, so you need thicker cables to counter that. The British BS1363 plugs are pretty well designed, they are shaped as they are so that if the cable is pulled out, the live is the first to get pulled out, followed by neutral and finally earth. They have a longer earth pin so that engages first, and opens shutters so fingers can't get inside. The sockets are almost universally switched, so you can leave something plugged in and turn it off - almost negating the wear issue you get with US sockets. They're also fused so that a fault in the device won't melt the cable.

    But in any case - this is the EU overreaching again. This is pretty much solely to target Apple, as most phones already use USB-C. Legislation on this really isn't necessary, everyone knows USB B micro is utter junk and manufacturers are happily moving away from it.
    Anilu_777seanjchiageorgie01GG1FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 15 of 118
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,649member
    Meh, whatevs.

    the people who will pay the price are European consumers. If they don’t like it, vote different. If they do like it, then enjoy.
  • Reply 16 of 118
    This is a typical protectionist action by EU parliamentarians. The Brits are lucky to have been able to escape from this heavy handed tactic.
    seanjelijahg
  • Reply 17 of 118
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 1,060member
    elijahg said:
    While the US style plugs may be "elegant", they're actually pretty crap - especially the two prong no earth ones. If you stand on the cable near the plug, the prongs can snap off and leave live prongs stuck out. The sockets quickly wear out so that wall warts won't stay in the socket, and just drop out on the floor.
    Have you experienced any of this firsthand?

    I've lived in the US my whole life, over half a century, and have never come across a single instance of those scenarios.  Even electrical devices and wall sockets made well before I was born... nothing like what you describe.  Ever.

    Prongs snapping off... you must be talking about some other country, because the US citizenry would not stand for that kind of shenanigans.

    edited January 2020 tmayfastasleepJFC_PAbaconstangjimh2JWSCbageljoey
  • Reply 18 of 118
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,063member
    gordoncy said:
    Had the law been there yesterday, micro USB would have stuck with us forever, preventing innovations such as MagSav. Now, USB-C has been declared the last wired charging standard.
    Where does anything say this law has to do with laptops?
  • Reply 19 of 118
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,063member

    apple ][ said:
    The EU is not needed and is not relevant in the big scheme of things.
    Absolutely incredible — that's 28 European countries and over 500 million people (or 7% of the world population) you're talking about. You can't possibly be serious.
    edited January 2020 baconstangzoetmb
  • Reply 20 of 118
    daven said:
    Am I missing something here? All phones can charge via usb. The only difference between them is the cord from the usb charger to the device which gets replaced fairly often because of fraying. 
    my thoughts also.

    Apple’s chargers are usb, the charger is standard. What is the wailing about from all corners. nothing is going to change.
    davenzoetmb
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