The European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection has come to an agreement that there needs to be a common charging standard across all electronic devices. The idea behind the initiative is to stop brands from introducing their respective proprietary charging solutions and make them stick to the USB Type-C standard instead.
The European Commission has been working relentlessly against the barrage of various chargers since 2009. However, for this provisional agreement to become a law, it needs to be signed by 27 participating EU countries and the European Parliament. If it comes to fruition, we may see a common charger for all devices in the European Union by 2024.
According to the EU panel’s surveys, an average consumer in Europe owns three mobile phone chargers. Europeans are losing a hefty sum of €2.4 billion on chargers and cables. Not to mention, the 11,000 tonnes of e-waste these chargers and cables create every year. Not just for environmental reasons, but this move will benefit the consumer by offering the convenience of using a single charger for all electronic devices. Buyers can also choose to purchase devices with or without cables and chargers.
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This will come as a major setback to Apple, as it has been using its proprietary Lightning connector for its smartphones, tablets, and laptops for years. Apple charges a bomb for its Lightning charging accessories and a significant chunk of revenue comes from selling these products in the market. Once these new laws come into effect, it is projected to lose a fair share of the revenue.
Apple has often criticised these moves by the European Commission. In its defence, the iPhone maker says that it kills innovation and will create a lot more e-waste as its Lightning cables and chargers will be rendered useless. But now, the Cupertino-based tech giant seems to have caved in to the pressure exerted by the EU, as there are reports that the 2023 iPhone 15 might come with a USB Type-C port. Moreover, its latest iPads and MacBooks already come with USB Type-C ports, indicating that it is taking small steps at scrapping its proprietary solutions.
European Parliament member Alex Agius Saliba commented, “If Apple wants to market their products, sell their products within our internal market, they have to abide by our rules, and this Apple device [pointing to an iPhone] has to be USB-C. This is a rule that will apply to everyone”.
This rule won’t just apply to smartphones, but also to other devices such as tablets, e-readers, laptops, cameras, headsets, headphones, gaming consoles, Bluetooth speakers, wireless earphones, keyboards, mice, and portable GPS navigation devices. The legislation also includes “Harmonised Fast-Charging Technology”. Currently, some fast charging bricks don’t support devices from other brands. This new law may urge manufacturers to develop fast-charging bricks that will offer cross-compatibility.