Charging your phone it’s something that the vast majority of us have to do at least once a day if not more often and it’s something that the EU want to make a tiny bit easier on Thursday the European commission took the first step on a path towards a common charger and while that might not sound consequential for one company in particular it could be a big hit Apple.
let’s take a look at what the commission is proposing and why apple isn’t happy about it right now.
First then it’s worth casting your mind back to 2009 when the iPhone was just two years old back then charging was to be blunt a mess over 30 different types of chargers were in active use in the mobile phone market from apple’s 30 pin dot connector to micro USB and mini usb to the whole suite of charges that nokia used.
You never really knew which one worked until you tried every single one soon after then a voluntary agreement known as a memorandum of understanding was reached that saw phone makers coalesce around a few universal charges.
Most notably usb micro b and its successor usb-c 10 companies signed off on this agreement. lg, motorola, nec ,nokia, qualcomm research in motion. Samsung ,sony ,ericsson, texas instruments and apple while most of the signatories stuck to the letter and spirit of the memorandum.
Apple didn’t developing their own new lightning connector using a loophole that allowed manufacturers to continue using proprietary connectors. if they offered an adapter Apple well decided just to offer an adapter and kept using lightning so in 2014. The eu passed the original radio equipment directive which called for a nude effort to develop a common charger something apple again refused.
Citing the 2 billion cost to implement usbc technology in their devices fast forward. This thursday 23 september 2021 when after years of rumors and wrangling, the european commission formally announced that they’d be revisiting the radio equipment directive to force apple’s hand under the terms of the directive. Usbc would be the common port for all smartphones tablets cameras headphones portable speakers and handheld video game consoles. The eu’s vice president with responsibility over technology stressed that we gave the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions now time is right for legislative action for a common charger. It’s safe to say that Apple aren’t happy with this in a statement to writers.
The company said we remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world. This does make some sense, forcing usb-c does remove one factor of potential competition however it could be argued that it actually helps competition standardizing the connectors makes it easier for customers to change devices and manufacturers helping to prevent lock-in and encouraging companies to become more innovative not less innovation .
However, obviously money is also involved as lightning connect is a proprietary technology. Apple licenses out its connector as part of its mfi program made for iphone, ipad, or ipod which it does for a fee. It will lose out on if all devices are forced to move to usb-c that being said some apple devices do already use usb-c as standard. The ipad pro the ipad air the macbook air and macbook pro, all use usbc so although the headline issue is a harmonized common charging port in the form of usb-c.
The revision of the radio equipment directive is actually much broader notably. Producers will be prevented from unjustifiably limiting charging speeds. it’s been a somewhat common practice that to reach the maximum charging speed for a particular device manufacturers strongly recommend.
Example: Require the use of a particular branded cable in conjunction with a particular branded charging block both of which are generally sold by the manufacturer. A practice the EU hopes to bring an end to charges will also no longer be automatically bundled with the actual device. You’re buying which is something manufacturers are already doing however if you’ve gone through a few upgrade cycles in the past, you’ll probably have that draw full of unused and sometimes still in their original packaging charging bricks and cables according to eu.
By scrapping these and standardizing the cables we’ll be able to reduce electronic waste by almost a thousand tons yearly. Finally the directive will also mandate improved information for customers pushing manufacturers to move away from technical mumbo jumbo to more simplistic language.
In order to make it easier for customers to see if their existing charges meet the requirements of their new device, the idea therefore being that the new standard not only limits the huge amount of tech waste. We produce each year but also make life easier for the consumer who’ll be able to travel and live with one cable rather than with a whole bundle and as someone who already lives fully in the usb-c world we can definitely personally recommend that so when will this all take effect well not for a little while longer the directive has literally just been put forward by the commission under the eu’s ordinary legislative procedure also known as a co-decision before it can actually take effect.
The European parliament and council must debate and adopt the proposal once both have agreed to the proposal a transition period of 24 months will begin but given the European parliament voted 582 to 40 last year for binding rules on common charges it looks like it will get their approval and therefore it’s a matter of when not if.
what do you think is it a good idea to mandate usb-c usage is apple right that it will stifle innovation or are they just bitter about the money they’re likely to lose. Share your opinion in a comment section if you are agreed with Eu’s original radio equipment directive.