To combat the plague of cable clutter, European authorities are channelling their inner Marie Kondo. One huge annoyance may have come to an end.
For obvious reasons, you don't want the government becoming involved in tech product design most of the time. Apple's products are cool because of Jony Ive, a design legend who could never be matched by a bunch of DC bureaucrats.
However, Apple is also responsible for a large number of charging cables that are solely compatible with Apple products. If you're an iPhone user who also uses a Kindle and wears a Garmin watch, you're in trouble. You're taking three wires with you for a weekend excursion. If you bring your laptop, you'll have four options. This has been the case for decades, and no one is happy about it.
The European Union took an unprecedented step this week to decrease cable clutter and waste by mandating that Apple and other smartphone makers embrace a single common charging standard for mobile devices by the fall of 2024.
Almost all of your everyday products that are rechargeable via a wired cable – phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, cameras, portable speakers, and so on — will be required to include a USB-C port under the legislation.
It's not entirely unexpected; Apple has been planning the demise of its proprietary Lightning connector for quite some time. Some Macs and iPads already have USB-C ports, and Apple is apparently exploring iPhone versions that replace the Lightning port. However, the law may motivate Apple's designers to completely embrace USB-C, effectively killing the Lightning charger for good.
And I am aware of your concerns. We've all got that shoebox in the closet full of every type of cable ever manufactured (but the one you need), and I, too, would like to confidently toss it in the trash.
The environmental damage has already been done. Because we are screen addicts who can't take the sound of our own thoughts, we've already purchased multiple Apple Lightning chargers to ensure we never run out of juice on our iPhones and AirPods.
We can't fall asleep or wake up without our phones; we wouldn't know which route to take to work without the help of an app; I've heard of individuals who don't have a Spotify playlist or podcast playing in their ears at all times, but I don't know how they do it, and I'm not interested in finding out.
Apple (AAPL) despises the proposal, claiming that it will stifle innovation and render a billion products useless. But they've been testing new iPhone models with USB-C connectors in the meantime, and I have no doubt that one of the world's most valuable corporations will be OK.
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