EU charger standard could force Apple to give up its Lightning connector
Almost a decade of efforts later and The European Commission still hasn’t succeeded in imposing an EU charger standard. In 2010, the micro USB was widely adopted by manufacturers, however, without ever being named a “standard” that would be inter-compatible with different devices from various manufacturers. Four years later, the efforts for an EU charger still continued, though without a real success. The Commission claims the situation generates more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste yearly, mostly from old chargers that users dispose of.
14 manufacturers, including Samsung, Apple, Huawei, and Nokia have signed, in 2009, a voluntary memorandum of understanding (MoU). This MoU acknowledged the need of harmonization of chargers for smartphone models coming into the market as of 2011. After the MoU expired three years later, some companies have signed letters of intent in 2013 and 2014, but the Commission is still not happy.
European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said that “given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options“. These studies are meant to make it easy on the regulators to impose measures and take action, as the status quo hasn’t changed much.
In the lack of positive response and progress, the question is whether there is a need for action in pushing for a common mobile phone charger. If the decision will be taken, manufacturers like Apple, who use a proprietary connector (the Lightning), will have to adopt the standard imposed, whatever that might be, or face large nonconformity fines or even bans.