Lawmakers forcing smartphones to have the same charging port

What do you guys think of this?

I think it is a terrible idea. It is an interesting concept - force all phone makers to use the same type of charging port. But, over time, I can see how it would stifle innovation.

It would be harder to move onto the next thing that would come AFTER Type C connections, I think.

Plus, it’s not really fair to Apple either…


I think it’s likely to make them go all-wireless for power to side-step the issue entirely, unless the legislation requires it have a port as well. I’m not opposed to the idea of interoperability; you say it may slow innovation, but I think the question begs: relative to what? We just saw the “smart home” sector’s “innovators” cry “uncle” and agree to a common standard; wouldn’t it have been so much better for everyone to have done so before almost a decade of torpor, abandonware, and grift during which security was at best an afterthought?

FWIW, on the wireless front: gallium nitride technology for wireless power was demonstrated on Triangulation 319 by Alex Lidow, CEO of Efficient Power Conversion. Bluetooth sickens me acutely, but I still hold out hope that however gallium nitride operates won’t prove so toxic as today’s methods.

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It does sound like a pretty bad idea. What if they had done it years ago, and we were stuck with the old old connectors?


As opposed to newer, but less old, connectors? Sure, it may not be as “fast” but that doesn’t automatically make it a disease worse than your cure. Look, I realize I’m arguing against the hegemony of corporations’ untrammeled “right” to make money on “innovation” in something as basic as electrical power—not unlike the headphone jack in that sense (hey, next, let’s have proprietary Ethernet and phone cord connections!)—but I don’t think that avoiding affronting the sensibilities reverential to that sacred cow is worth being saddled with a patchwork of corporate fiefdoms for the most basic commodity of electronics.

I’d be curious how many to rail against this for being through government would also berate Apple for its Lightning port as evidence that Apple loves to coddle is users while locking out competitors. For my part, Lightning was a stop-gap while USB-C got its act together enough to serve their purposes. USB-C is still a mess because it’s not strict enough with vendors not even required to properly label the capabilities of a given product!

My overall point is: be it government or an industry consortium, cooperation amongst self-interested proprietary enterprises is a mess, but at least with government there’s not the constant drive to undercut the whole operation from within (puppetmastering legislators/bureaucrats/regulators from above still has some degree of customer/public input/responsiveness, but is a political, not technical, problem: if corporations were really such angelic innovators, collaborating toward the next standard would be prioritized instead of gaming the system politically on the one hand or trying to undercut private industry-led collaboration on the other).

Is government forcing a standard a great idea? No. But I don’t think it should be treated as a 3rd rail, either.

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I think this is a great idea. Think energy plugs. It’s useful not to have five different plugs and it’s a pain to use converter plugs whenever travelling. I could not care less for unique plug shapes and as USB shows, most innovation and improvement comes to light in the controller and not the plug type anyways. It’s useful to steer the attention of (faux) innovation away from plug shapes.

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You seem to have thought a lot about this. I guess I am just showing my age. I have a mental image of trying to plug a micro USB into my phone.


For clarity on my statement (to whatever degree you might be referencing it—not that you necessarily were at all :sweat_smile:), I was using it in the slang sense of “boundlessly fantastic”. I think the idea centers more on the ends than the means, and in that I frame the issue differently than it seems most who are interested in debating the issue would.

It’s so funny because to me that epitomizes industry running off half-cocked. My point there would be that if companies would just look past the end of their noses and have some modicum of respect for a process larger than themselves let alone the market “externalities” that are consumers’ actual lives and experiences their products are responsible for delivering/causing, then maybe they’d make a shift in emphasis away from domination and toward utility and longevity.

While we’re on the subject, where the hell is MagSafe in all of this? Cost? Again, relative to what? Patents? Consortium and/or law would be pointless if it couldn’t move that ostensible mountain.

I think the problem with this is that in the future - it will just make it more difficult to move to whatever the next plug type will be. Who decides when it gets changed? The government? A vote among a certain % of companies. How difficult will it be to make changes later.

I say - let the market decide.

It may bring some immediate convenience, but there will be unintended consequences

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I guess I see it as less restrictive: it’s not legislating that that’s the only possible means of power delivery, is it? Nothing stops a device from supporting power also through USB-C, say, or also supporting wireless charging.

I did not reference to your post. However it made much sense so I wish I would have. :smile:

I take a simpler approach to this, I believe: I don’t like the walled gardens of plugs and cables and I enjoy standardized solutions for something as simple as a plug.

Maybe I am a bit of an apparatschik, but I am somewhat convinced that we can ask our governments to help facilitate working towards such solutions. They certainly will not pick the plug, but push for a plug to be picked. If that’s not a tongue twister in the making.

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This has been going for years. There are articles from 2014 and 2018 about the EU forcing this. Guess it never got pushed through - would have meant iPhone changing to a standard USB port or shipped with a dongle.

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Yeah, they do this kind of thing in lots of communist areas!!!:joy::joy::joy::joy:

I wonder what kind of operation, let alone country, let alone government, anyone who can’t see past basic industry standards if governmental due to, for them, connotations of Communism would be capable of running.

I think this is a bad idea. Electrical outlets are standard based upon local. Which is why most chargers are a usb cord with their own head on the end. While yes I think USB-C on the iphone would be nice, I also do buy into the philosophy that because lightning was internally developed that it allow them create something better before it was available in mass. Also I foresee the switch to USB-C on iphone being slow. To many people have docks that are lightning and are gonna be upset if Apple ditches it.

Apple could have freed Lightning. It’s not a choice between proprietary innovation on the one hand and government inferiority on the other. Other options were worse because of venal market incentives and visionless entrepreneurs/backers, which a standards body, including one from government, addresses by pooling expertise/IP/resources toward broader access to just such superior designs.

With product/price as hardware’s primary fiscal fulcrum, the market can easily allow even superior designs to languish e.g. for being pricier, harder to comply with higher quality standards, etc. A mandated cost bearable by the manufacturers, vendors, and customers is rarely possible to impose unilaterally aside from government; arguments against it forfeit this benefit.

Pragmatically speaking about Lightning versus USB-C, as @carbonga noted, it’s not settling on a particular port; the article simply mentioned USB-C as a hypothetical example.

See @PhilAdcock ? Your own argument proves not even Apple can drag its own user-base any faster than Europe’s government-mandated standard. And Apple wants USB-C to work, for reasons that all support the kind of thinking behind broad standards best served in many ways by government, not least being environment as noted by @big_D .

How old is that story? They’ve been forced to have a micro-USB for over half a decade and they are moving forward to use USB-C now. Apple even agreed to this, when it came out, but never actually got around to following the directive.

Apple has always been in breach of the agreement in Europe, even though they provide a micro-USB to Lightning adapter in the box.

It just means that I only need one power adapter for all my devices and, the theory is, when you buy a new phone, you don’t need to get a new power adapter, you can keep using the old one, so there is less electric waste. Unfortunately, most manufacturers still include a new charger in the box, so that part of the directive is being wasted, excuse the pun.

Nearly a year ago, Apple said regulations that would force all smartphones to have the same charging port would “freeze innovation,” be “bad for the environment,” and be “unnecessarily disruptive for customers.”

How does using 1 port and therefore 1 adapter for all devices a bad thing and bad for the environment? Surely, if I can buy 20 devices and they all use the same port (which was pretty much the case with micro-USB and now with USB-C) and I therefore only need 1 adapter to charge them (or maybe a couple if I need to charge multiple devices at the same time)?

We have a single USB adapter for USB-C and a single for Micro-USB in the kitchen and they cover all of our phones, tablets, watches, torches, battery chargers for my camera…

Edit: And I don’t need to carry a charging adapter or cable with me, wherever I go, I can be certain that there will be a micro-USB (and in the future USB-C) cable and compatible charger. At the moment, with the transition to USB-C, I do carry a USB-C cable around, just in case, but even that is becoming more and more common now. Over the last decade, only Apple users have had to carry a charging cable around with them, because the iPhone/iPad was the only device not to use micro-USB.

I gave you a like for everything, up to the last sentence.

I guess I’m just used to governments forcing standards, like how a mains plug should be wired, its shape etc. and standards for safety in cars etc. All my life, I’ve lived with the government setting the rules for such things, for advertising on tabacco products, for example.

I’m glad that the government set standards for a lot of things, especially when it comes to safety. In the auto industry, there are a lot of regulations about the height of bumpers and lights, for example, that ensures they all fall into a zone, the lights have to be a certain height from the road, they have to be a certain width apart (headlights can’t be a bar), they have to point in a certain direction and have a certain power (to stop them blinding other road users), etc.

The legal 2 year minimum for a product guarantee, the proposed legisltation that white goods should be made to last at least 10 year - that used to be a given, the fridge, mixer and various other white goods my mother received when she married and they bought when they got their first home, back in the 50s, were still working up into the 2000s. I dare you to find a hand mixer that, used 2 - 3 times a week will, today, last for 50 years! Our first colour TV was still going after nearly 30 years. I very much doubt our current Bravia will be working in 15 years, let alone 30…

I’m all for innovation, but if a product does its basic job, it should go on doing that basic job, it shouldn’t be designed to just last the guarantee period and then irreparably break…


Apple agreed to micro-USB, when it was first introduced, but they never actually got around to using it. They just included a micro-USB-Lightning adapter in the box in Europe.

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My statement was mostly a caustic retort to Captain_Sam’s message saying it’s a “pretty bad” idea: I didn’t say it’s a bad idea, either, even if not “great” meaning less than pie-in-the-sky optimal (though pragmatically perhaps superior in certain regards, as I noted of superceeding market myopia and capital/price-bound blockages). The informal way I meant “great idea” I intend in that instance as a foil to the “great ideas” of innovators, meaning to sarcastically dismiss any requirement that basic standards be as sexy and profitable as the latest niche start-up’s elevator pitch, or even just the idea that private enterprise’s profit should be regarded as a better engine for innovation than actually principled individuals working as employees for companies and working for the betterment of society from within their organization in whatever way they may find they can.

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