“Think Different” was a longtime slogan of Apple, and to a certain extent the foundation of its current success. But European regulators are now forcing Apple to think the same as everyone else, when it comes to charging ports, at least. Kim Mackrael reports for The Wall Street Journal:
European Union lawmakers backed legislation to create a common standard for charging smartphones and other portable electronics in a move that will effectively ban the sale of new products in Europe that use the company’s proprietary Lightning charger port.
The European Parliament on Tuesday voted to approve the new rules, which aim to force companies that sell portable electronic devices in the EU to ensure they are equipped with a USB-C charging port, technology that is commonly used in new laptop computers and Android phones. The aim is to have a common standard that would allow consumers to use the same cable to charge all their portable electronic devices.
“The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe,” said Alex Agius Saliba, a member of the parliament from Malta who led negotiations on the legislation earlier this year. He said the new rules “will benefit everyone—from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment.”
The EU legislation is a blow to Apple, which uses its Lightning charging ports on new iPhones. Replacement chargers for iPhones tend to be more expensive than the standard USB-C cables that are used for many other small electronic devices.
The new rules will only apply to devices sold within the bloc. But EU regulations often lead to broader global changes because companies prefer to avoid operating under multiple sets of rules. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether it plans to change the charging ports on phones sold in other markets beyond Europe, such as the U.S.
The EU’s influence on global rule making and business practices is often referred to as the “Brussels Effect,” a term that was popularized by Columbia Law School professor Anu Bradford and refers to the impact that regulations made in Brussels can have on the rest of the world.
Apple opposed the proposal when it was introduced last year, saying it would harm innovation and inconvenience users.
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