Now would be a good time for Apple to give up Lightning and use USB-C.
The European Parliament has unveiled a proposal to push the world’s technology giants to adopt a single universal charging standard, the most ubiquitous and modern of which is USB-C. The EU wants the three main types of charging ports (USB-C, Lightning, and MicroUSB) reduced from 30 proprietary standards in 2009 to just one.
Apple, with its proprietary Lightning connector for the iPhone, seems to be the main target of any future legislation. Apple sells millions of iPhones every year, requiring different cables, plugs, and ports that the company has already removed from its own PC products. However, it’s more about chargers than cables. Apple already provides a USB-C charger with the iPhone 11 Pro, which could quickly be shipped with a broader range of iPhone products to meet EU demands. Even so, why not cut out the middleman and opt for a USB-C interface?
Just as importantly, many other manufacturers are also in the line of sight. Amazon’s popular Kindle range of electronic readers and Fire tablets, for example, still lags with micro-USB connectors and slow chargers. There is a wide range of accessories and other products, from power banks to Bluetooth headsets, that have not yet adopted USB-C.
Apple is expected to join other global players
Apple’s dedication to the Lightning connector is one of the last significant obstacles to the adoption of ubiquitous USB-C. Although, as we mentioned, there’s probably still a bit of a way to go before the accessories catch up. However, industry leaders should drive the industry’s core. Apple has already adopted USB-C on the iPad Pro, enabling features such as DisplayPort protocol and audio playback on the standard connector. USB-C is also standard on the company’s Macbook line, leaving the iPhone as the final block.
The industry is increasingly adopting the adoption of USB-C and USB Power Delivery as a one-stop-shop for connectivity and charging. Apple, and other recalcitrants, are expected to adopt the industry-standard before being legislated quickly. After all, if fans hate change, Apple can always blame the EU’s infamous bureaucracy. There is no reason to delay.
Why adopt a single standard?
For consumers, the benefit of a unified charging interface on all devices is quite clear. A single type of charger to connect and power all your devices is simply convenient. A notable issue with the current state of the mobile industry is which cables and plugs will give you the fastest charging speed with a particular device. It is currently a bit complicated, but switching to USB-C and USB Power Delivery would help solve this problem.
Also, switching to one type of charger is the right choice for the environment. European regulators estimate those obsolete chargers generate more than 51,000 tons of waste per year. It is a small drop from approximately 50 million tonnes of electronic waste produced last year, of which only 20% is recycled. But chargers and cables are a natural area to reduce waste and appear to be a practical starting point.
It’s not just Apple; all technology manufacturers should support a unified rapid charging standard rather than a proprietary one.
Apple is already demonstrating its environmentally-friendly efforts, such as using 100% recycled aluminum in its handsets and building devices that consume less energy. Indeed, the company, and others, cannot give up the goodwill offered to care a little more about the environment.