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Apple Loses Major Court Case

Here's what it means for consumers and what happens next.
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Two years ago the European Commission outlined plans to force all tech companies to use a single charging port.

Two years from now Apple AAPL will have to acquiesce to those plans after the regulatory commission passed new rules.

By the end of 2024, all mobile phones sold in the economic bloc, including iPhones, will be required to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port after the Commission passed the law with a 602-13 vote.

"The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe. We have waited more than ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past," said Alex Agius Saliba, a member of the European Parliament.

He also called the new law is "future-proof."

The new law governs:

  • mobile phones
  • tablets
  • digital cameras
  • headphones and headsets
  • handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers
  • e-readers
  • keyboards
  • mice
  • portable navigation systems
  • earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts

Both Samsung and Huawei will also be affected by the new rules. Half of the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connecter while 29% had a USB-C connector and 21% had an Apple Lightning connector, according to Reuters.

The EU says that customers being able to re-use chargers will help consumers save up to 250 million euro a year.

Apple's Long Battle With EU

In 2019, Apple argued that the regulations being proposed by the European Commission were "bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers."

"We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adapters with every device, or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide."

The company did not immediately return a request for comment.

But this charger issue is small potatoes compared to the antitrust case that is pending against Apple in the EU.

The European Commission is considering a sweeping new law called the Digital Markets Act that could change the way iPhone users download apps.

Currently, all apps on your iPhone must come from the App Store. Apple takes an automatic 30% commission from app developers on all subscription fees.

"We believe that the owner of a smartphone should have the freedom to choose how to use it,” European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke told The Verge. “This freedom includes being able to opt for alternative sources of apps on your smartphone."

Last month, Daniel Ek, the Swedish billionaire and founder of Spotify  (SPOT) - Get Free Report, visited Brussels to lobby the European Commission to speed up its investigation into the Apple's App Store policy.

More App Freedom Means More Privacy Issues

In the U.S., the Open App Markets Act would also force Apple to permit sideloading.

Apple CEO Tim Cook disagrees, saying Apple's vetting process is crucial for protecting users from bad actors.

Apple said it has designed its system to protect its users, and interference from bureaucrats only places them at greater risk.

"Here in Washington and elsewhere, policymakers are taking steps in the name of competition that would force Apple to let apps on the iPhone that circumvent the App Store through a process called sideloading,” Cook said in April.

“That means data-hungry companies would be able to avoid our privacy rules, and once again track our users against their will.”

Cook warned that companies could be mining personal data about everything from where users choose to eat to where they travel on a daily basis. They would be doing so under the guise of targeted advertising purposes.

"But they don't believe we should have a choice in the matter. They don't believe that they should need our permission to peer so deeply into our personal lives," Cook said.

Cook says Apple has given its users the tools they need to protect their identities better through the App Store.