EU vs Apple

Apple won’t voluntarily adopt a standard mobile phone charger, so the EU is drafting legislation requiring it to do so

The EU is drafting a law this week requiring Apple to drop its proprietary connectors for its iPhones and adopt a universal EU standard. The change would – at least in Europe – mean the end of the ‘lightning’ connector Apple introduced with the iPhone 5.

“There is no doubt that from the consumer’s point of view, it would be good if everything worked with the same connector,” Anders Elbak , the chief analyst at the IT research firm IDC Nordic, who is an expert in the mobile phone market, told DR Nyheder

Apples and oranges
The goal of the proposed legislation is to have all mobile phones function with the same charger. Apple – with its one third share of the Danish mobile market – is the only manufacturer that has opposed the change.

The EU and the various manufacturers – including Apple – inked an agreement on universal chargers in 2009. Despite signing the deal, Apple continued to go it alone and develop its own charging connector, opting to develop an adaptor that fit its phones and included the common micro USB connector. That adaptor was not included with a newly-purchased phone, but could be purchased in the Apple store.

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The EU said that was not good enough and is attempting to rein the computer giant in. Elbak doubts the new law will have the desired effect.

“I strongly believe they will find a way around it,” he said.

“Apple will fight tooth and nail to hold onto their connectors, arguing that they have developed equipment that can be used with coming generations of iPhones based on their connector.”

Elbak pointed out that connectors perform other functions besides charging a device, and that power requirements differ from phone to phone and tablet to tablet.

Mobile waste
One of the reasons behind the EU law is to cut down on the some 51,000 tonnes of waste generated by mobile devices each year.

“There is an incredible amount of environmental pollution produced by having different chargers for every product,” said Christel Schaldemose, a member of the European Parliament for Socialdemokraterne.

Elbak doubts that the good intentions will change much.

“I actually believe that people will buy the same number of chargers as before,” he said.