It’s a bad idea for the EU to force Apple to dump iPhone’s Lightning port

Apple disagrees with the European Union’s idea that forcing manufacturers to include a standard charging port for smartphones would be good for the environment, users, or device makers. It’d be a lose-lose-lose situation for the EU to force Apple to dump iPhone’s Lightning port.

Liam Tung for CNET:

Bad idea for the EU to force Apple to dump iPhone's Lightning port: Apple's Lightning port
Apple’s Lightning port
EU politicians earlier this month outlined plans to introduce stricter regulations to make smartphone makers conform in offering a standard connector, with the main objective of reducing tons of waste in tech accessories…

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

More than one billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users. — Apple Inc.

Apple’s new statement follows a study it commissioned from Danish economist consultancy Copenhagen Economics, which concludes that a European common charger law would cost consumers far more than any environmental benefits it could deliver. “The consumer harm from a regulatory-mandated single connector type (at least €1.5bn) [$1.66bn] significantly outweighs any associated environmental benefits (€13m) [$14.3m],” wrote Copenhagen Economics.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, if the EU had passed such a law when this was initially proposed, we’d all be stuck with MicroUSB today.

By the time the EU gets around to making a law mandating a common phone charger (it was proposed back in 2014 and it’ll still take many more years, if they ever even get there), Apple’s iPhones and iPads won’t have any ports at all. As it stands even today, the Lightning port on our iPhones is largely superfluous.

10 Comments

  1. Actually, I would not mind if every mobile device went to a USB Type-C connector. Apple has effectively moved everything else it sells to that connector. The only hold outs are a few of the iPads and all the iPhones. The USB Type-C connector is only marginally larger than the Lightning connector and with Jony gone the absolute drive to always smaller and smaller mobile devices has thankfully vanished.

    The USB Type-A connector has been around since 1996 and is still on virtually all computing devices big enough to handle it. Hell, even the latest Mac Pro has two of those ports standard. I expect the USB Type-C connector (specs first published in 2014) to have an even longer life with all the protocols it can support.

    The protocols and data rates that the USB Type-C connector can support today far exceed those that the Lightning connector can support. Apple can do with their iDevices anything with the USB Type-C connector that they can with the Lightning connector — and much, much more. Wouldn’t you like to be able to backup your 512 GB iPhone much faster over a USB Type-C connector (up to 40 Gbps, depending on the protocol used) than you can over the Lightning connector today? Sure you would.

    And as far as Apple making the iPhone 100% wireless with absolutely no physical connectors. That’s still an asinine idea. Wired connections will ALWAYS be faster and more robust than wireless connections. ALWAYS. Why take that giant step back in robustness and speed? There really is no need. Going 100% wireless is the ghost of Jony haunting you (“Let’s get rid of all physical connections! We can then make it one millimeter thinner! Thinner is more beautiful! Who cares if functionality suffers. It’s thinner!).

    1. USB-C would be fine. Until the next thing comes along. And then it sucks.

      I haven’t read the EU’s proposed plans, but I wonder if it would force every phone to have a connector, even if the phone could otherwise be completely wireless. That would be absolutely bonkers. It would mean making a special EU-compatible phone with a connector, and selling the good phone to everybody else.

  2. When it was introduced, Lightning was hailed as this incredible multi-interface device, but really it has never been anything but a non-standard USB. What does lightning do Micro-USB doesn’t? What would we not be able to do if all iPhones were still using micro-usb?

    1. You can insert Lightning either way, unlike micro-USB. That’s the only real advantage. USB-C nullified that advantage, and provides much higher data-transfer rates than Lightning, too.

  3. Apple’s reply is borderline hilarious. The company that introduced FireWire to the world and then dumped it. Developed the 30-pin connector and then dumped it.

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