Why Is the EU Telling Apple Which Chargers It Can Use?
After ten years of hard work to try and promote innovation and consumer welfare, the European Union has revealed its bold plan: to force device manufacturers to use a single charging standard.
The Eurocrats are now hard at work patting themselves on the back for this glorious outcome of the decade-long “trilogue on the common charger.” By 2024, wired devices sold in the EU must use the USB-C charging port and will not be sold with a charger by default. This is intended to “curb e-waste” and give consumers “more choice.” Can you feel the innovation? Never say the EU does not dream big.
Unless you are one of the 56 million or so Europeans who use iPhones, not much will change. Private companies have converged on common standards for years. Most, if not all, of your devices might already use the nifty USB-C charger, which in addition to being small and symmetrical, allows fast charging to boot.
And some Apple products, like my own MacBook Air, use the USB-C standard too. It is nice to be able to seamlessly charge my phone and my laptop without hassling with extensions.
The problem is the iProducts. Most, but not all, of these famously (or infamously) use Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector, which is incompatible with other companies’ devices. iPhones, iPads, and iPods usually use Lightning connectors, which means people need to have a separate charger for these specific products.
The Lightning charger has few fans today. It’s proprietary, it doesn’t always allow fast charging, and you’ll pay a lot for the privilege. Haters—and there are many—will be tempted to applaud this move by the EU.
But as usual, the EU’s meddling will almost certainly have the opposite effect that it is intending. Instead of “limiting e-waste,” this ban will create millions of useless chargers that will soon head to a landfill.
E-waste is a retro sounding name for old electronic equipment that won’t be reused or recycled. It goes straight to the dump where it sits and maybe leeches nasty chemicals into the ground. The EU is making hay over chargers, but most e-waste includes larger items like appliances as well as out-of-date computer equipment, lighting, and HVAC apparatuses.
Obviously, banning something makes it useless. Those Lightning chargers that might have otherwise gotten a few more years of service out o
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