Home commentary iEra Transformation: Apple’s USB-C Leap and the EU Directive Odyssey

iEra Transformation: Apple’s USB-C Leap and the EU Directive Odyssey


Topping the headlines today is the charging revolution taking place in the electronics industry. With its recent unveil, Apple says goodbye to its Lightning port with the welcoming of the iPhone 15 and its companions in favour of the all-encompassing USB Type-C cord— signalling a seamless shift from proprietary to universal technology. This change represents a fundamental shift in the tech universe and is not just about wires.

A relevant question is, what drives Apple’s dance and how does it sway to the beat of EU regulations?

All eyes are focused on the iPhone 15 Pro ahead of Apple’s spectacular unveiling, which was finally released last Tuesday and its market availability bid for September 22. What is new? Clad in an aerospace‑grade titanium design, harnessing the exceptional strength‑to‑weight ratio of the material, Apple flaunts the lightest Pro model ever.

The “all-new Action button” is also a talking point among consumers because it extends an invitation to consumers, providing easy access to a variety of features without the confusion of unlocking or switching between apps. Then the shift to USB Type-C cord which has almost made people forget other features that make the new release spectacular. But on a serious note, what brings about the change?


The Legislative Waltz for Harmony

This change isn’t just an inclination; it’s a planned reaction to a bill that was assented to in June 2022. Its purpose? to establish USB-C as the standard connector and so standardise charging ports across all electronic domains. Curiosity wags its tail here: What sparked this legislative dance, and how will its beat mesh with consumers’ preferences? This could be traced back to the 2020 Crescendo and EU’s Time-Honoured Choreography.

Let’s take a historical tour to better understand the show. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was created in 2009, and it brought order to the chaotic world of mobile phone chargers by reducing it from 30 to a harmonic trio. In 2014, as the MoU’s final curtain fell, the European Parliament re-echoed the clamour for a common charger for all mobile phones sold in the EU.

The goal? A reduction in waste, cost, and user bewilderment. The European Parliament pushed this appeal to a crescendo in 2020. In its 2020 Parliament resolution on a common charger for mobile radio equipment (2019/2983(RSP)), among other things, it echoed Rule 132(2) and 4 of the operation of the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EU and declared:

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“Emphasises the need for a standard for a common charger for mobile radio equipment to be adopted as a matter of urgency in order to avoid further internal market fragmentation.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable

Development of the United Nations is perfectly in line with this significant transformation. Focusing on SDG 12 “Responsible consumption and production” and SDG 15 “Life on land,” the objective is quite clear: the loud chorus of charger reuse, pottentially saving customers up to 250 million euros yearly. In addition, it aims to reduce the 11,000 tonnes of electronic trash that are created in the EU each year as a result of abandoned chargers. How will these new commitments serenade customers and the environment?

The Lightning Connector Debate

However, not every dancer in this evolutionary dance is moving in unison. The Lightning connector’s small size and the vast ecosystem of Lightning-based adapters and accessories are fiercely defended by certain users worldwide. The unanswered question is whether the switch to USB-C would cause an unforeseen upsurge in e-waste, thereby disrupting the regulation’s intended harmony.

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According to The Guardian, the proponents of the lightning connector argue that the e-waste that the parliament are pushing against will unavoidably occur as many users struggle to conform with the new normal. Meanwhile, when Apple said goodbye to including chargers with its iPhones in 2020, it saved a staggering $6.9 billion.

Apart from the brand’s effort to reduce carbon footprint in its products, this decision is yet another marketing bait as users who purchase an iPhone and do not have an authentic Apple charger might end up buying a new one, which costs $19 (price for the 20W USB-C power adapter according to the official website). However, the lingering question is how much the company stands to lose with this decrease in Lightning cable sales. Only time will reveal the financial ramifications of this bold move.

To those who once flaunted their exclusive charger as a symbol of distinction, as we all unite under the banner of USB-C, when’s the encore performance of the iPhone purchase on your playlist?

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