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EU Wants to Force Apple and Android to Use the Same Chargers

by Jacob Kleinman | March 13, 2014March 13, 2014 1:00 pm PST

smartphone chargers

If you use both Android and iOS devices on a regular basis you probably have more chargers on hand than you can keep track of. While the Android community’s done a pretty good job of adopting microUSB across the board, Apple still plays by its own rules. That may change soon though, at least in Europe where the EU parliament is pushing for a new law that would establish a common charger for all mobile phones.

The law isn’t just about reducing consumer headaches, it’s also an environmental issue. If everyone owned just one or two chargers instead of the four or five currently needed for various smartphones, tablets, digital cameras and other devices, we could reduce waste and actually help the environment. “This new directive ends this nightmare and is also good news for the environment as it will result in a reduction of electronic waste,” said European parliament negotiator Barbara Weiler.

The most obvious choice would be to enforce a microUSB standard, since the majority of mobile devices already use those chargers. However, the switch could be an issue for Apple, which offers its own solution, as does Nokia for some of its devices like the Lumia 2520 tablet. The potential law would make life easier for consumers, but it would also make it easier to switch back and forth between different platforms, which is exactly what Apple wants to avoid.

If the law does pass, it also raises the question of whether Apple will offer two different charging standards, one in Europe and one for the rest of the world, or simply convert its entire mobile ecosystem to microUSB or whatever method is picked by the European Commission. Neither option would be particularly cheap for Apple – or consumers who have spent hundreds on Lightning accessories already – but it can’t afford to give up the entire European market either.

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...