USB-C to replace Lightning in 2024.
Update Time: 2022-06-29 16:21:36
"Today, we have a unified charging interface in Europe!"
So said a rapporteur of the European Parliament in a recent press statement. That's right, EU lawmakers have reached an agreement that by fall 2024, all products sold in the EU, including smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, gaming handhelds, and more, will have to be equipped with a universal USB-C port for wired charging. In addition, the above devices also need to unify the fast charging protocol and will be sold separately from the charger and equipment.
The most affected is Apple, the only smartphone manufacturer currently using a proprietary interface (Lightning), which sold about 56 million iPhones in Europe last year.
As early as a few years ago, the European Union was rumored to require a unified USB-C charging interface. The European Commission has also held several meetings for this purpose and plans to force the unified use of USB-C interface across Europe. 2020, the EU has introduced rules requiring power adapters to unify the use of USB-C interface. However, this is only for power adapters, but the Apple Lightning interface did not have an impact on the charger side of the interface requirements. The only change is that the Apple attached charging cable from USB-A to Lightning to USB-C to Lightning.
The agreement was reached this time but also needed to be approved by the EU Parliament and Council in the second half of the year, before the official legislation. But from an official press release, the EU Parliament clarified that the regulation will be implemented in the fall of 2024. So the news of the EU's unified USB-C charging interface is a nail in the coffin, and the only variable may be the timing of the final implementation.
EU: improve convenience with USB-C, more environmentally friendly
The EU said last year people spend 2.4 billion euros a year to buy chargers, per capita ownership of the charger even up to three, and many chargers are incompatible. The EU expects that if consumers reduce the acquisition of new chargers, they can save 250 million euros annually. Meanwhile, the EU's internal market commissioner said, "European consumers need only one charger for all portable electronics, which is an important step to improve convenience and reduce waste."
In addition, the electronic waste created by redundant chargers is also an important issue, with about 11,000 tons of charger waste in the EU each year, some of which are even discarded without ever being used, and the EU expects that the unified interface will reduce charger waste by 1,000 tons per year.
In summary, the EU has two objectives. One is to help consumers reduce charger expenses while improving the convenience of using electronic devices; the second is to reduce electronic waste to protect the environment.
Apple: unified interface stifles innovation and creates more e-waste
In fact, in the cell phone market, the charging interface is the same as the operating system, divided into two camps: Apple's Lightning and Android's USB-C. Therefore, if the mandatory use of USB-C regulations is implemented, almost only Apple and its accessory suppliers will be affected. From Apple's perspective, it wants to continue with the Lightning interface. Apple, in recent years, has repeatedly responded to the EU's desire to mandate USB-C initiatives, saying that Apple has always opposed connector standard homogenization and fears that strict regulation of unified charging interfaces would stifle innovation rather than encourage it, which would, in turn, harm consumers in Europe and around the world.
At the same time, some believe that the mandatory implementation of USB-C will make the current ecology of Lightning accessories useless, but instead is adding more electronic waste.
With the abandonment of Lightning, Apple itself is advancing in the matter.
But is that the case? For the stifling of innovation accusations, the EU said that the current standards will not remain unchanged for the next decade but will have a dedicated team to focus on relevant technologies so that the standards can be adjusted in due course. At the same time, USB-C is just a form of interface that can carry various interface protocols to achieve different functions. A unified interface for consumers can do "a line to go," just need a charging head with sufficient power, plus a multifunctional dual-head USB-C cable. You can achieve data transfer and charging needs because many charging heads are backward compatible protocols, at least to meet the basic charging function.
On the other hand, the concern about abandoning the current Lightning accessories ecology to cause more electronic waste is unnecessary. I'm afraid many people forget that, before 2012, the connector used by Apple was a 30pin unique interface and then converted to a Lightning interface. 30pin interface has been used for 9 years. There are a very large number of related accessories on the market.
At that time, many accessory manufacturers did not know the news of the replacement interface in advance, so the accessory manufacturers also caused great losses. Of course, later, for some of the old interface accessories, some third-party companies introduced adapters to reuse the old interface accessories.
And the time node given by the EU is 2024, which means that Apple, as well as the relevant accessory manufacturers, have a buffer of two years, which is enough to allow Lightning's accessory ecology to have a transition period and digest Lightning accessory inventory. Moreover, many Lightning interface devices are still in use, and these accessories can fully accompany Lightning interface devices through their life cycle.
In addition, the Lightning interface is joined by the MFi certification, which has long brought Apple a large amount of revenue. According to research data, Apple's MFi accessories are a multi-billion dollar market, and Apple's annual revenue from the MFi licensing business is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Apple should also anticipate this. After news revealed that in the future, Apple hopes to cancel all interfaces on the phone, charging, and data transmission all in a wireless way, Apple launched the MagSafe series of wireless charging and accessories, which is the plan's first step. But from a technical point of view, the abolition of all interfaces is difficult to achieve in the short term.
And as it has been used for 10 years without updating the Lightning interface, although the durability compared to USB-C may have more advantages, some consumers like the Lightning interface. But, the hardware limitations, so the Lightning interface performance can not keep up with the times. Even Apple itself has replaced its iPad and other devices with USB-C ports in recent years to provide richer expandability.
Nowadays, the USB-C port carries a variety of protocols and is still being upgraded, including the new USB4, transmission speed has reached up to 40Gbps, PD3.1 has also been supported by the maximum power to 240W, and can be used along with the USB-C interface form, it can be said that the advantages are growing.
Written in the end.
Interestingly, according to Apple's practice, the iPhone will be released at Apple's fall launch each year, just as the European Union also said the regulation will be implemented in the fall of 2024, more or less for Apple to give an "ultimatum" of meaning. In May this year, an analyst predicted that Apple would upgrade to USB-C on the iPhone 15 next year. Another media outlet later confirmed the prediction and said that those in the know revealed that Apple was already testing the new machine.
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