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EU Considers Laws to Force Apple into Ditching Lightning

Lightning Connector Iphone X Credit: Forbes
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Regulators in the European Union are considering whether there’s a need for a standardized mobile charging port, according to a new report.

The EU will study whether it will need to take action to push manufacturers toward adopting a universal standard, Reuters reported. The European Commission has long asked device manufacturers for a common standard.

Why?

EU officials cite the more than 51,000 tons of electronic waste produced by old chargers being thrown out, as well as the inconvenience to consumers, as the primary reason for a common charger.

It’s too early to tell what course of action the EU might take, but feasibly, the Commission could implement laws that force manufacturers selling devices in the European market to adopt a single charging standard.

That could, potentially, force Apple to ditch Lightning in favor of another standardized option, like USB Type-C. Alternatively, Apple could produce separate models with EU-compliant chargers for that market.

Of course, at this point, almost all Android manufacturers are voluntarily making the switch to USB-C. More than that, several rumors have suggested that Apple could be mulling over that option as well.

Back in 2009, Apple was one of 14 companies that signed a “voluntary memorandum of understanding,” basically agreeing to harmonize charging standards in new smartphone models on their own.

Those OEMs, which also included smartphone heavy-hitters such as Samsung and Huawei, agreed to adopt the MicroUSB port as the standard for their devices by 2011.

Of course, Apple devices don’t use MicroUSB — the Cupertino tech giant moved to replace its aging 30-pin adapter with its proprietary Lightning port. The agreement expired in 2012 without action on Apple’s part.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition chief, said she isn’t happy with the “status quo” on manufacturers making the change of their own accord.

“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,” Vestager said on Aug. 1 in response to a question from an EU legislator.

As such, the European Commission will launch a study analyzing whether there’s a need to standardized charging ports. In addition, the Commission will parse the impacts of various potential moves.

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