Apple hits back at the European Union over universal charger proposal

iPhone

Apple has hit back against European Union lawmakers renewed call for a common smartphone charger, warning the move could hamper innovation across the industry.

Apple’s comments came a week after Brussels politicians called for a common charger for all mobile phones and amended a draft law to say the ability to work with common chargers would be an essential requirement for radio equipment within the EU28 (including the UK).

A move to a common charger would affect Apple more than any other companies as its iPhone products are powered by its proprietary Lightning cable. The majority of smartphones, including Android OS devices are powered by the USB-C connector.

“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.

Some EU politicians believe the proposal would reduce waste and help consumers. However, Apple has said it will instead have the opposite effect as many of its devices would be rendered obsolete… and consumers would miss out on product innovation.

“We hope the European Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate”, a representative of Apple said.

The European Commission has been pushing for a common charger for more than a decade. Back in 2009, Samsung, Huawei Technologies, Apple and Nokia all signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the commission to harmonise chargers for new smartphones, coming into effect in 2011. Most manufacturers used a micro-USB port, however Apple decided to go its own way and develop its Lightning port. It sells an micro-USB adaptor in its stores and online.

An official at the European Commission has stated that the voluntary approach was not working and it is time to look into legislating to force manufacturers to use a common charger.

The Commission will publish a study around the end of the month or early February on the impact of a common charger.

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