Standardisation could spell bad news for Apple
New EU laws could soon force mobile phone manufacturers to standardise the design of their chargers, in a move that could cause mayhem for Apple in particular.
In a unanimous vote the EU’s Internal Market Committee has ruled that there is no compelling reason why a phone charger should be protected by proprietary patents and that in future, pending approval by the European Council, all chargers distributed in member countries sholud have a standard interface – probably one based on a microUSB connector.
The news could pose significant problems for firms like Apple, whose latest Lightning iPhone connectors incorporate a tiny chip to combat copying. Even so, the fact that several clones are already available, especially in China where there has been a number of injuries and deaths due to the knock-off devices, has prompted the EU to act.
As well Apple, sub-contractors like Britain’s Wolfson Microelectronics – which was awarded a contract to provide Lightning cables back in December – could similarly be affected, as could other firms such as Asus whose charges also have proprietary designs.
Apple’s Lightning connector claims to offer faster file transfers when linked to a laptop and can be inserted either way up, unlike the microUSB.
Though customers can still use the Lightning connector with other devices, it costs around £25 to buy an adaptor. Meanwhile an update in Apple’s iOS 7 prevents users from charging their phones using non-Apple chargers.