War has been declared in the EU over a seemingly small charging method, the Lightning Cable and connector. The European Parliament fired the first shot by lobbying for a universal charging method for EU residents. If they get their way that means Apple will be forced to change its proprietary charging method on many of its iOS products.
The Lightning Cable and connector were introduced in 2012 replacing Apple’s old 30-pin connector. At the time it was seen as a major upgrade, though some wondered why Apple didn’t use MicroUSB. While MicroUSB was the standard, Apple saw the sense in making a reversible connector which was a hit with most iOS users.
But now that USB Type-C is on the market many are questioning the real need for the Lightning Cable and connector. USB Type-C is also reversible and it is able to carry both data and power. As a matter of fact, Apple replaced the Lightning Cable with USB Type-C on its iPad Pro line and it uses the same cable for its MacBook Pro laptops.
The EU argues that consumers disposing of old and obsolete chargers is generating over 51,000 tons of e-waste a year and they want to curb that. But Apple sees the situation differently and they released a full statement on the matter:
“Apple stands for innovation and deeply cares about the customer experience. We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.
“More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. The legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.
“We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly. This includes Apple’s USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices. This approach is more affordable and convenient for consumers, enables charging for a wide range of portable electronic products, encourages people to re-use their charger and allows for innovation.
“Prior to 2009, the Commission considered mandating that all smartphones use only USB Micro-B connectors which would have restricted the advancement to Lightning and USB Type-C. Instead, the Commission established a voluntary, industry standards-based approach that saw the market shift from 30 chargers down to 3, soon to be two — Lightning and USB-C, showing this approach does work.
“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
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Last Updated on February 3, 2021.