There is a motion for a resolution on one charger for mobile devices

Apple is defending its arms and legs against a new European Parliament resolution on the common standard for chargers for portable radio devices. And no wonder - this company is not used to playing on someone else's rules.

The European Parliament has just published the content of the motion for a resolution , which is Rose thun. The project involves creating a universal charger for mobile devices, after all, today the market is divided between at least three standards - USB-C, microUSB and Lightning - of which the first two come in so many different varieties that even the largest geek has the right to get lost.

The new resolution aims to systematize this mess. And also the limitation of the real mess that creates when we change devices for new ones. Changing the phone to a new one often involves throwing away the old charger and cables, because these will no longer fit the new device. Not to mention the usual inconvenience that many devices charge with different chargers.

Using our own example:

  • I charge the iPhone via the Lightning connector
  • I charge my Android phone with a USB-C connector,
  • I charge my headphones with a USB-C connector,
  • I charge the Kindle with a microUSB connector.

It is not surprising that the European Union is trying to force producers one standard . Among the paragraphs justifying the creation of the project we read the following postulates:

whereas the single market is not fully exploiting its potential, and further fragmentation of the market for mobile phone chargers and other small and medium-sized electronic devices translates into increased electronic waste and consumer frustration;

whereas when buying new devices, consumers still need to purchase different chargers from different sellers, as well as having to purchase a new charger when buying new devices from the same seller;

whereas voluntary agreements between industry players, while significantly reducing the number of types of chargers available on the market, have proved ineffective in achieving a common solution for chargers, and consumers continue to be offered various types of chargers for sale;

whereas around 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are generated each year worldwide, or more than 6 kg on average per person;

whereas consumer trends over the last 10 years point to the increasing number of devices and the short life cycles of some radio devices, e.g. smartphones; whereas older devices are often replaced because they are seen as out of date; whereas, furthermore, such trends lead to the generation of additional electronic waste, e.g. chargers;

whereas consumers own, use and often carry with them many different chargers for similar battery-powered devices; whereas the current oversupply of chargers thus causes excessive costs and inconvenience to consumers, and an unnecessary environmental footprint;

These are all legitimate remarks that occur in everyone's life.

We do not know with what effect (and if) the resolution will be adopted. However, we know for sure that one company will not give up without a fight.

Apple is not going to play as the Union plays it.

The day after the European Commission announced the creation of the project, Apple representatives very sharply responded to the call to create a single charger standard.

First of all - and how - Apple believes that one standard charger will slow down innovation and reduce the entire market.

The official statement also reads that the cost of introducing a universal solution will be much higher than its environmental benefits. Allegedly, the ratio of 1.5 billion euros in costs to 13 million euros in benefits.

I personally treat Apple's statement as a total oddity. About "stopping innovation" says a company that has been clinging to the proprietary Lightning standard for 8 years, while all major rivals have long since switched to USB-C? A company that in recent years is always the last to implement innovative solutions in their products and usually does this long after the rest of the market?

The motion for a resolution is also answered by Apple's motion for a resolution:

The Commission, without hindering innovation, should ensure regular analysis of the legal framework for the common charger to take into account technical progress; reiterates the importance of research and innovation in this field for improving existing technologies and developing new ones;

Interestingly, the project also highlights the potential benefits of using wireless charging. Another technology Apple has implemented as the last of the big players:

the use of wireless charging technology provides additional potential benefits, such as reducing electronic waste; stresses that many mobile phones already use wireless charging methods and that fragmentation in this area should be avoided; in this respect, calls on the Commission to take action to ensure the best possible interoperability of different wireless chargers with different portable radio devices;

I also wonder where Apple came up with an estimate of environmental costs and benefits, and what exactly this estimation looks like, what are its components. Officially, we only know that these estimates were made by Copenhagen Economics, commissioned by Apple itself.

Personally, I think Apple's resistance boils down to one word in the motion for a resolution: interoperability.

Apple is not on the way with the fact that consumers can use accessories other than those supplied or certified by Apple. This means, firstly, giving away control over these accessories, and secondly, giving away competition to a large source of income.

I can understand the legitimacy of Apple's arguments in only one dimension: full compatibility.

You can guess that the common standard we are striving for today is USB-C. Unfortunately, USB-C is the most fragmented connector in the history of connectors . The same-looking cable may work differently depending on the device you connect it to. The same-looking cable may have completely different functions, or, for example, not support charging, but only data transfer (or vice versa).

I suspect that Apple prefers to avoid a situation where the consumer buys an unauthorized accessory and some iPhone function will not work properly.

Today Apple can say: it's your fault, consumer, we recommend using official or certified products.

If the resolution were to enter into force, such a translation would be unacceptable.

The European Commission is hitting the sun not the first time.

Already in 2009, the European Commission forced Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia to sign a memorandum in which companies theoretically agreed on the need to harmonize the standards of wired communications. The unification of chargers was to take place in 2011, and as we know, nothing came of it.

The draft resolution reads:

whereas for over 10 years Members of the European Parliament have been demanding the introduction of a universal charger for portable radio equipment, including cell phones, tablets, e-book readers, smart cameras, wearable electronics and other medium and small size electronic devices; whereas the European Commission has repeatedly postponed the adoption of a delegated act supplementing Directive 2014/53 / EU on radio equipment;

The European Commission has been deferring the adoption of such an act for 10 years. It is true that over the past decade the problem has become much more pronounced and the amount of generated electronic waste has increased rapidly, but it is still possible that the resolution will never come into force.

It is also possible that in 2020 the market simply does not need such a resolution, because for several years everyone, even Apple, have been consistently striving to implement the USB-C standard.

However, if such aspirations are not regulated, we can expect that even if for a moment there will be a common charging standard, sooner or later someone will break out of it.

And I feel something that "Apple" will be someone who is already creating something new in the Cupertin laboratories. Something that the resolution can prevent spreading wings.

There is a motion for a resolution on one charger for mobile devices


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