Apple says EU Common Charger Move Can Hamper Development

On Thursday, iPhone maker Apple pushed back against the proposal by EU lawmakers for a Common Charger, warning that the change could hamper innovation, create a mountain of electronic waste and irk customers. Apple’s statement came a week after European Parliament lawmakers called for a Common Charger for all mobile devices and revised a draft law to say the ability to work with Common Charger would be an essential requirement for block radio equipment.

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A switch to a standard adapter will affect Apple more than any other company because its iPhones and most of its products are powered by its Lightning cable, while USB-C connectors power Android devices.

Apple said in a statement, “We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.”

It said there was no need for regulation since the industry is already shifting to USB-C via a connector or cable assembly.

“We hope the (European) Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate,” Apple said.

A study commissioned by Apple from Copenhagen Economics found that consumer damage from a regulatory-mandated transition to a different charger would cost at least EUR 1.5 billion, outweighing the potential environmental benefits of EUR 13 million.

For more than a decade, the European Commission, which acts as the EU’s executive, has been pushing for a Common Charger.

Four companies, including Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia, were awarded in 2009 to sign a voluntary memorandum of understanding to harmonize chargers for new smartphone models coming into the market in 2011.

The voluntary solution does not work, and it is time to look at legislation, officials from the Commission said.

“A delegated act based on the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) is one of the options to be considered since it empowers the Commission to take certain types of regulatory measures in this field,” one of the representatives said.

One choice was to enact legislation on the matter.

“…given the limitation in the scope of RED and of its empowerment, any action through the ordinary legislative procedure and/or through other instruments, such as implementing measures under the Eco-design Directive, should be further explored and thoroughly assessed,” the representatives said.

A report on the effects of a specific charger will be released by the Commission around the end of the month or early February.

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