Apple’s Malicious Compliance with Charger Regulations

The European Commission is about to force vendors to standardize connectors. But will Apple add USB-C to the iPhone?

Simon Pitt
OneZero
Published in
8 min readSep 29, 2021

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Photo by Halacious on Unsplash

When people ask me what my hobby is, I tend to say something CV-appropriate like reading books or watching films. But to be honest, I’m starting to wonder if my main interest isn’t cables and adapters.

I don’t know how this started, but I wander around the cable section in electronic shops the way other people browse art galleries. Sometimes family members catch me skimming lists of adapters with a faraway look in my eyes, and when asked what I wanted for Christmas this year I wrote a list that contained not one but two different types of USB cable.

And so while everyone else was at the cinema watching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, I got out the popcorn and re-watched (yes, re-watched) Maroš Šefčovič’s opening statement on the European Commission’s Common Charger for Mobile Equipment proposal.

For those not up to speed with the latest cable and connector news, the European Commission has announced plans for all electronics manufacturers to move to a common charging port. If the European Parliament adopts the proposal, companies will have 24 months to switch their ports to USB-C.

This is good news. The Commission has been trying since 2009 to persuade manufacturers to use the same connector, with significant success. Ten years ago there were 30 different portable electronic chargers, now there are three: Micro USB, USB-C, and Lightning. This consolidation is a result of a European initiative called the Common External Power Supply specification — an agreement that suppliers signed when selling devices in the EU. XKCD joked that trying to create new standards results in more standards, but state-backed regulation has worked.

Via XKCD

14 of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers signed the memorandum of understanding, which is why for the last decade most devices used a micro USB port. Even Apple agreed to this initiative. Although three…

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Simon Pitt
OneZero

Media techie, software person, and web-stuff doer. Head of Corporate Digital at BBC, but views my own. More at pittster.co.uk