New regulation in EU
Several media including BBC reported that phone makers must produce universal chargers for phones and small electronic devices. This is because the European Commission (EC) proposed the new regulation.
Of course, there are several reasons why the EC proposed it. For example, its aim is to reduce waste of chargers that consumers have never used. In fact, consumers in Europe bought about 420 million phones or other portable electric devices in 2020 alone. In addition, unused charging cables are estimated be about 11,000 tons of waste every year. Therefore, if we can use the same charging cable when we buy a new device, the regulation seems to make sense.
In the proposal, all smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers. On the other hand, Apple is manufacturing an Apple made “Lighting” connector as its iPhone series. To make matters worse, there are more than about 1 billion iPhone users in the world based on some analytic reports. That is why the US tech giant thinks this change would harm innovation. In fact, spokesman in the company mentions in the following.
“We are still concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector hinders innovation rather than encouraging it. It means that it would has a bad effect on consumers not only in Europe but around the world in the end.”
It is totally true that we must reduce waste as much as we can. This is because we are living in what is called “Sustainability” age. In other words, we must live in not only for ourselves but for future generations. In this sense, we should take proper actions to make our society and the earth more sustainable. Therefore, it seems that there is no more good reason why we turn down the proposal.
However, our media thinks that the new regulation has different purpose other than sustainability. The EC wants to regain its competitive advantage in the smartphone or other electronic devices industry. For example, do you know the name of European smartphone brands? Probably, many people across the globe feel difficult to answer this question. It means that Apple and other Asian companies dominate in the smartphone market.
In fact, the EC has reduces the number of standard of smartphone chargers from more than 30 to 3 since 2009. Thus, this proposal does not emerge suddenly. It has a long history for the EC to set new rules or regulations to gain its competitive advantage in the industries.
The question here is whether the change will hinder innovation or not. Now, the answer might be Yes and No. If Apple users want to use other smartphones due to the new rule, the result will be really bad for the company. This is because the more users the company has, the more opportunities it come up with and improve both hardware and its services.
On the other hand, from users’ points of view, it is annoying that they always bring three chargers. If we can the same charger to charge every electric device, it sounds good. What’s more, we must reduce wastes as much as possible. In this sense, it seems that smartphone manufacturers must observe and adapt the new regulation.