Mere weeks after Apple announced and released the iPhone 14 and while YouTubers are still churning out reviews of the iPhone’s new ‘dynamic island’ like there’s no tomorrow, the EU’s European Parliament has just dealt a serious blow to Apple.
No More Lightning
For YEARS, Apple has decided, despite obvious disapproval from customers, to continue including their trademark ‘Lightning’ charging ports in the iPhones – and other devices- instead of opting for USB-C like basically EVERYONE ELSE. This meant that customers can’t use the widely available USB-C cables they already have for their numerous other devices and instead need to buy a Lightning cable.
This meant that Apple was basically forcing customers to buy these extra Lightning cables despite them being unnecessary, increasing their own revenue, at the expense of their customers who had already paid for the new Apple devices which BTW – are NOT cheap.
However, this is a classic move from Apple, who have an eco system devoted to limiting user’s expression and choice, with these limitations generating Apple huge streams of revenue.
For example, iPhones can only download applications from the Apple app store and not from the internet, meaning after you pay a massive sum of money for a new iPhone, you are then restricted in what you can actually download onto your phone. In this way, Apple controls the one and only source of applications for iPhones and can set exorbitant fees for developers who want to list their apps on the app store.
Don’t get me wrong, Apple devices are fantastic bits of tech, however, Apple’s business model leaves a lot to be desired. This is because, at its very core, Apple makes its money from creating an ecosystem that works well, trapping people once they’re inside it, and emptying their wallets while they’re too busy looking at a ‘dynamic island’.
The Lightning cable is just another example of this. Say you’ve got an iPhone, AirPods and an iPad… you’re in the ecosystem. You see a new Android phone, earbuds or tablet and quite fancy one, or maybe all. Not only have you got to consider if you’re happy breaking the all-Apple ecosystem you’re already in that works quite well but you also need to buy new chargers for all of your new devices as your 3 Lightning cables are now useless.
This is an extra expense that you’re having to front for no reason other than Apple wanted to make an extra buck from you. And what happens to your old Lightning cables now you’ve moved to Android? Are you going to keep them as a souvenir of your Apple days ?
Quite frankly, the whole situation is a joke. It’s something so small that would save customers money and might even increase iPhone sales but Apple can’t guarantee that, so they take the easier option, and charge extra from those who they’ve already won over to their side.
Τhe EU Parliament has passed a law that by the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a UBC -C charging port. This is not only a result of the extra cost to customers for no good reason, but also to increase interoperability (allowing consumers to use charging cables among numerous devices – with interoperability being a key goal in the EU in the tech sphere), as well as reducing the effect on the environment from all those useless Lightning cables being thrown in the rubbish.
The Verge claims that “the EU estimates the rules could cut down on 11,000 metric tons (over 12,000 tons) of e-waste annually and save customers [EUR]250 million on unnecessary charger purchases”.
Effectively, Apple will have 2 choices: either stop selling devices in the EU, or adopt a USB-C charging port in its devices. Apple will likely not want to give up the massive market that is the EU for the sake of the Lightning cable and therefore will most likely adopt USB-C ports in all of its devices worldwide for the sake of uniformity and manufacturing costs.
Whether you’re normally a fan of EU intervention in big tech or not, this is a win for us all and an example of legislators using their power for the good of the environment and the people. Furthermore, it’s an example of how a small change can make a big difference.