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In a Shot at Apple, Europe Plans New Law on Chargers

Legislation would require that phones, etc., use universal charger, a USB-C
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2021 11:17 AM CDT
One Charger for All Devices? Europe May Make It a Law
Stock photo.   (Getty/Andrey Maximenko)

(Newser) – Anyone who's fought with a tangle of wires hunting for the right charger may find themselves cheering a proposed law in Europe: It would require that all phones, tablets, and all other such electronic devices use the same type of charger—a USB-C, reports the BBC. Apple is already crying foul.

  • The plan: The European Commission unveiled its USB-C connector plan on Thursday, reports NPR. It's just a proposal at this point because it still must be approved by the European Parliament. If that happens, a two-year phase-in period would follow, meaning 2024 would be a likely start date. It would then be illegal to sell a phone in Europe without a USB-C port. The Verge thinks the proposal should have "broad support" in the EU.
  • Apple: The Verge also notes that USB-C chargers have become "increasingly universal" (think Android) with one massive exception—Apple. The company, which ships new phones with its Lightning connector, already is speaking out. "We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world," the company said, per the AP. If this kind of law were imposed years ago, today's USB-C and Lightning connectors likely would not have been developed, says the company, per the New York Times.

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  • Another critic: It's not just Apple speaking out. "This is a profoundly stupid way to approach product design and standardization," tweeted industry analyst Benedict Evans. "What happens in 5 years when someone wants to use a better connector?"
  • In favor: "European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers," says Margrethe Vestager of A Europe Fit for the Digital Age. "We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger." In addition to helping consumers, the EU says the law would cut down on e-waste.
  • An exception: Devices that use wireless charging would not be required to have a port for a USB-C charger. The EU says that counters the argument about stifling new designs. "There is plenty of room for innovation on wireless," says EU commissioner Thierry Breton.
(Read more European Commission stories.)

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