E.U. Blocks Innovations in Charger Port Technology

(p. B1) The European Union unveiled plans on Thursday [September 23, 2021] to make USB-C connectors the standard charging port for all smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices sold across the bloc, an initiative that it says will reduce environmental waste but that is likely to hit Apple the hardest.

The move would represent a long-awaited yet aggressive step into product-making decisions by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm. Apple, whose iPhones are equipped with a different port, has long opposed the plan, arguing that it would stifle innovation and lead to more electronic waste as all current chargers that are not USB-C would become obsolete.

. . .

(p. B6) European Union officials and lawmakers at the European Parliament have been advocating a common charger since 2009, when there were more than 30 charging options on the market, now down to three. They have argued that fewer wires would be more convenient for users and better for the environment, as mobile phone chargers are responsible for 11,000 tons of electronic waste per year across the bloc, according to estimates by the European Commission.

But Apple has also argued that if the European Union had imposed a common charger in 2009, it would have restricted innovation that led to USB-C and Lightning connectors. In a statement, Apple said that although it welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to protecting the environment, it favored a solution that left the device side of the charging interface open for innovation.

For the full commentary, see:

Elian Peltier. “E.U. Aims to Require USB-C Ports.” The New York Times (Friday, Sept. 24, 2021): B1 & B6.

(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Sept. 23, 2021, and has the title “In a setback for Apple, the European Union seeks a common charger for all phones.”)

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