The EU has proven that they are not shy to intervene on behalf of consumers, even against vast multi-national companies.
Now Margrethe Vestager and Elzbieta Bienkowska, from the EU Commissioners for Competition and the Internal Market, has a new target, or rather an old one revisited.
The commission is once again planning to investigate the issue of multiple phone connectors in the market, noting that despite directions nearly 10 years ago which abolished most proprietary connectors in favour of micro-USB, there were still different connectors for different vendors.
14 companies including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia signed a voluntary memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2009, agreeing to harmonise chargers for new models of smartphones coming into the market in 2011.
Of course, besides USB-C and micro-USB, the only real proprietary connector in the market remaining is Apple’s Lightning, making the company the clear target of the investigation.
“Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options,” Vestager said in an 1 August response to a query from an MEP.
Of course, this does raise the issue of unnecessary intervention and regulation, with the argument that we may not have gotten a reversible connector if not for Apple’s freedom to innovate with Lightning.
The EU is launching an enquiry into whether additional measures are needed. There are of course already rumours that Apple is planning to switch completely to USB-C, and this pressure may be just what the company needs to finally flip the switch, although likely much too late for the next generation of iPhone.