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EU forces Apple's hand with new law

Small- and medium-sized devices used in Union countries will universally adopt the USB Type-C charger by 2024, putting paid to piles of cables and hopefully taking some of the heat out of global warming. The move is bad news for Apple, which has been opposing the measure in an apparent bid to shore up its profit margin.

Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones, video game consoles, and portable speakers will have to fit only Type-C chargers, regardless of manufacturer. Apple, which still uses its own special Lightning charger ports and cables, will be sorely impacted by the directive – last year alone it sold 56 million devices in the EU, meaning it cannot risk ignoring the new law even though implementing it will be costly for the tech giant.

And in a further bid to reduce the EU’s carbon footprint - and another potential blow to Big Tech's revenues - consumers will not be required to buy a cable every time they purchase a new device, in the hope that they use the same cable for all their gadgets and cut out up to 11,000 tons of annual electronic waste. The measure might hurt the profits of some companies, but is expected to save European consumers 250 million euros a year.

The European Parliament and Council will ratify the proposed amendment to the Radio Equipment Directive after summer recess, and pre-existing laptops will have to be modified three-and-a-half years after it comes into force.

“European consumers were long frustrated with multiple chargers piling up with every new device,” said an EU spokesman. “We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers.”

In an effort to discourage the EU from implementing the measure, Apple argued – to no avail – that making its Lightning cables redundant would in fact contribute to electronic waste. It is now said to be testing the USB Type-C cable and port for its 2023 phones.

One potential workaround does exist for the tech giant. If Apple were to roll out its rumored wireless charging devices, it might avoid having to change the ports on upcoming product releases. However, at the time of writing, no such move has been confirmed.

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