It’s something Apple has resisted to no avail. Under pressure from Europe, the latest iPhones, which were presented tonight, have a new connection for the first time in eleven years. Apple’s own Lightning connection has made way for the universal USB-C.
It is therefore a very tangible example of how European regulations can force a large tech company to make visible changes. And that is not an image that Apple is happy with; it could inspire other governments to also demand product adjustments.
Two years ago, the European Commission announced that it wants one standard charger for devices: USB-C. Although voluntary guidelines had already reduced the number of different connections from 30 to 3, Brussels wanted to go one step further. The proposal was adopted. The universal charger will be mandatory from the end of next year.
Clumsy and expensive
The committee called the situation inconvenient and costly for consumers. According to one calculation, 2.4 billion euros would be spent annually on separate chargers that are not supplied with devices. It also leads to 11,000 tons of electrical waste every year. Switching everything to USB-C would reduce this waste by 1,000 tons.
In response to the proposal, Apple stated that “requiring one type of connection stifles rather than encourages innovation.” According to Apple, this affects consumers in Europe and the rest of the world. Disappearing the lightning cable would also lead to more waste, because the existing cables are no longer used.
Apple would have preferred to see it differently, Apple reporter Mark Gurman from Bloomberg recently wrote. “Apple is now in the awkward position of having to embrace a technology it wouldn’t have wanted.”
According to Gurman, the company would have liked to continue with lightning for a few more years, and then stop connecting to the telephone altogether. Instead, consumers would charge the phone wirelessly. This has been possible since the iPhone 8.
Present it as a victory
Gurman also predicted that Apple will still present it as a victory. “The company has an iron law: when it announces a new product, it always wants to operate from a position of strength.”
During the presentation tonight, the company emphasized, among other things, that it has been using USB-C in devices “for years” and pointed out that it is easy that you can now charge multiple Apple devices with a cable. In no way was there any reference to European rules.
For those who do not change iPhones, there is nothing to worry about for the time being. But anyone who thought about buying one of the latest models will find a USB-C cable in the package. Apple has not supplied a separate adapter for several years now. Anyone who does not yet have a USB-C adapter will have to purchase one separately.
Apple changed the connections of its most important product twice before: in 2012, the 30-pin connection on the iPhone was replaced by lightning. In 2016, the headphone jack disappeared.
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