According to a company executive, Apple will change the primary cable port on its iPhones to comply with new European Union rules that require every new smartphone to work with a common USB-C charging cable by 2024.
When discussing the new rules on stage Tuesday at The Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live Conference in Laguna Beach, California, two top-level Apple executives indicated they aren’t thrilled with them. Apple initially thought it had reached an agreement with EU regulators by including a cord in the box with its iPhones that plugged into USB-C on one end and its proprietary Lightning cable on the other.
“We have no choice — [Apple] will comply with local laws, as we do around the world,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. “We believe it would have been better for the environment and for our customers if the government had not been so prescriptive.”
Apple has slowly been adding USB-C ports to its Mac computers and iPad tablets. It’s also been rumored for a while that it’s working on iPhones with USB-C ports, so it’s not a huge surprise.
Nonetheless, the move represents a rare public acknowledgement from the world’s most valuable company about the future of its products, particularly how new government regulations are affecting its business. Though selling Lightning cables for $19 isn’t what has brought Apple billions of dollars in profits, the proprietary nature of its technology has assisted it in creating a branded ecosystem of accessories built specifically for its devices. Keep an eye on
Apple has licensed its 30-pin connector for the iPod, then the Lightning connector for the iPhone and iPad, to accessory makers over the last two decades, allowing them to create speakers, camera add-ons, and a variety of other items.
“It’s been a fantastic connector, and over a billion people already have it,” Joswiak said. “The Europeans set the schedule for European customers.”
Joswiak and his colleague Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, answered additional questions about the company’s operations while on stage. They rejected bringing iMessage to devices running Google’s Android software, claiming that the company would be unable to invest as heavily in an Android version, stifling innovation.
The pair dodged questions about future products, such as whether a Mac computer with a touchscreen will be released. “Who am I to say?” Federighi retorted.
He did speak more forcefully about returning employees to the office, an issue that has sparked unusual public debate between the company and its employees. When Apple announced plans to return to the office last year, a group of employees objected, citing health and safety concerns, particularly for those who feared exposure to the COVID-19 virus would harm them or a family member.
“Our entire culture has been about being in the same place together, building products in tight interdisciplinary teams, and that’s who we are,” Federighi said, adding that the publicly posted online petitions come from “I don’t know, a tenth of a percent of Apple employees.”
“Of course, there’s some people who moved to Kansas and said, ‘This is where I want to be,'” he added. “Is that Apple employees? It’s an Apple employee. But I think a lot of us are thrilled to be able to engage with one another. And I think it’s important.”