EU votes to force Apple to use USB-C port on iPhones

Members of the European Parliament voted 602-13 (8 abstaining) to force companies such as Apple to adopt USB-C ports in products such as iPhone that don’t already have such ports.

Apple's Lightning port
Apple’s Lightning port

Jillian Deutsch for Bloomberg News:

The deal, provisionally agreed in June between the commission and the European Union’s 27 countries, still needs to get the final sign-off from the EU member states. The rules are likely to be written into law at the beginning of 2023.

The proposal originally angered Apple, which said it would reduce innovation. But the company is currently testing future iPhone models that replace its proprietary Lightning charging port with standard USB-C connector, Bloomberg reported in May. Current Apple laptops and iPad Pro models already use them…

Under the proposed rules, all phones and tablets sold in Europe will have to comply by the fall of 2024. Laptops will have longer to make the switch. The commission will also be able to set standards for wireless charging in the future.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, any government — or, in this case, an extra-national quasi-government-ish body — that mandates technology will stifle innovation. It is a mistake. Luckily, in this case, it won’t matter much. Apple’s iPhones are moving to port-less and, if there is some overlap with USB-C iPhones for a few years, the e-waste created will be minimized.

This isn’t a matter of Lightning vs. USB-C. The problem is the mandating of a certain standard and the innovation it squelches. Idiot bureaucrats never seem to consider unintended consequences, regardless of how obvious they are. This is, as usual, a “sounds great, oh, wait” mistake. (They never seem to be able to even imagine much less consider and weight the “oh, wait” part.)

If you believe the EU will move quickly all of a sudden (it took them over a decade to (almost, not even quite done yet) codify this mistake), as quickly as a tech company like Apple to keep on top of innovation, you’re either a rube or under the age of eight.

USB-C is the wired port now, at least in the EU (and therefore everywhere; nobody is going to make specific devices for the EU which comprises a whopping 5.8% of the world population), pretty much forever.

Big government, quasi or not, is slow and wedded to its own red tape. If something markedly better were to come along, the EU will not magically change their mandate. In fact, what’s the incentive to create a better port than USB-C now? Not only do you have to coax adoption from tech companies as usual, but you’re now also tasked with nightmare and expense of lobbying and convincing a raft of EU bureaucrats to expeditiously agree to change their USB-C mandate.

Forget innovation in wired connectivity. It’s now dead.

Don’t believe? Watch and see. “iCal” us.

This is just needless, slow-as-molasses, bureaucratic meddling in the market; a stick in the spokes that, in the end, will be like mandating a buggy whip with every cart sold, twenty years after the advent of the automobile.

If the EU had passed such a law when this innovation-stifling foolishness was initially proposed, we’d all still be stuck with MicroUSB today!

Regardless, soon Apple’s iPhones won’t have any ports at all. As it stands even today, the Lightning port on our iPhones is a largely superfluous liquid and dust ingress point. If anything, this misguided, shortsighted EU move only hastens Apple’s move to port-free iPhones featuring even better water and dust resistance.MacDailyNews, June 3, 2022

Years ago, in January 2018, Apple provided feedback on this issue to the European Commission:

Apple stands for innovation. Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers.

More than 1 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. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide. This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconvenience users. To be forced to disrupt this huge market of customers will have consequences far beyond the stated aims of the Commission.

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31 Comments

    1. There are millions upon millions more U.S. iPhone users than EU iPhone users due to lots of poor, highly-taxed, socialist-handicapped Europeans settling, or being economically forced to settle, for poor man’s iPhones:

      Mobile Operating System Market Share Europe, Sept. 2022:
      • Android – 64.67%
      • iOS – 34.57%

      Mobile Operating System Market Share U.S, Sept. 2022:
      • iOS – 55.43%
      • Android – 44.27%

        1. Actually, I proved that America, even with a smaller percentage of the world’s population is more important to Apple that the EU cabal.

          By the way, all that really matters here is FIRST WORLD population (people who have the means to buy a premium smartphone), so America’s percentage of that is very, very high and much higher than that of the EU cabal.

          Confusing simply demographics with “elitism” is the province of defective minds.

          1. Non comprehension of one’s own words is the apex of defective minds.

            “socialist-handicapped Europeans settling, or being economically forced to settle, for poor man’s iPhones:” -Some pseudo-elitist imbecile.

  1. “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “Government is not a solution to our problem government is the problem.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”
    ― Ronald Reagan

  2. “Remember that every government service, every offer of government – financed security, is paid for in the loss of personal freedom… In the days to come, whenever a voice is raised telling you to let the government do it, analyze very carefully to see whether the suggested service is worth the personal freedom which you must forgo in return for such service.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “If more government is the answer, then it was a really stupid question.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would steal them away.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “Nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

  3. Apple will add high-speed data to the MagSafe connection. That’s why iPhone doesn’t already use USB-C like iPads. Apple didn’t want to switch iPhone from Lightning to USB-C and then almost immediately move to a “portless” solution when it’s ready. MagSafe is meant for more than holding the dumb wallet. Imagine the new supplemental devices that can be attached to iPhone using MagSafe if it has high-speed data to interact with iPhone. Like an external lens system to actually turn iPhone into a “pro” camera, not one limited by size and thickness of iPhone’s built-in camera system.

    1. They are forcing a design change from better tech to socialist standards for the masses in all the stores. Not forcing to Apple to sell in the E.U., just forcing them what to sell…

          1. By standardizing connectivity, this reducing waste and no friggin dingoes need be purchased. Also opens door to new attachable devices opening more hardware competition.

            That’s how,

            1. Standardized connectivity does not exist in the U.S., so that’s pretty lame because it’s NOT a problem here and should not be. Problem in Europe.

              More attachable devices already accomplished in the U.S. and if you have to spend $10 more on a dongle, what’s the problem?

              So why is Europe so special?
              ANSWER: Because they are socialists that want to spread misery EQUALLY.

              Ya know, like your Blue Party…

  4. It‘s actually the phone makers‘ fault because every phone maker used to have its proprietary connector just for charging, not even for data transfer. And with newer models the same company would change the connector. It is not a real problem these days anymore. The EU‘s rule is based on a situation we had 15 years ago. And imagine if every economic union on this planet would come up with an idea like that…

  5. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The EU is correct to force Apple to stop screwing over consumers, Apple hasn’t listened to user feedback on this issue. There is no “portless” solution for reliably transferring 10s or 100s of GBs of the huge ProRes files that Apple has endowed us with, AirDrop works 50% of the time for me to this day and rarely for anything over a few GB. If Apple had a clever alternative up its sleeve then it would have at least hinted at it by now.

  6. Imagine is the EU had standardized the micro USB or even the original USB-A – it will stifle development of newer, faster ports (who is going to fight against the EU?) and harm new device form factors as the port becomes a big area of compromise.

    This is a seriously misguided attempt. The EU should look at its energy policy to see how effective they are in solving perceived environmental issues.

  7. We are heading towards centralised governance away from market based governance. Of course, this is a mistake and lead to less innovation as bureaucrates decide upon technology. Sad.

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