Universal Chargers: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

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Finally. The EU has made its decision. USB-C chargers will be mandatory by 2024. Time to rejoice, right? Good for the climate, good for the users, great for the economy? Not so fast…

I like USB-C a lot, and I’m sure you do too. It has made my life easier, charging of many of my portable devices is much faster. After all, USB – the traditional variant in versions 1-3 – was made for communications, not for charging. Its role as a nearly universal charger was accidental, not intentional. USB-C fixed that – and a bunch of other things.

All good and the EU seems to have done the right (and obvious) thing by forcing the laggards into the fold. The laggards being – primarily – Apple and iPhones. But they forgot – or rather, ignored – one important thing: Reality.

Politicians and bureaucrats often do that. They create their own reality, make up laws and regulations for it and are surprised when it doesn’t work in practice.

In this particular case they chose to ignore the arguments from Apple and many others, the most important being that laws stifle innovation and progress. No one – not even bureaucrats – can predict the future, and most of us know that these days, 3 years is like forever. How can they possibly think making a 10 year old technology mandatory in 3 years is a good idea? Beats me. And there are other arguments as well. Such as the fact that there are a billion iPhones with Lightning connectors out there, and they are not going away by 2024. More like the opposite, there will be even more of them. So the effect of the new regulations will – unless Apple decides to make the change early – come in say 2026 or something.

This is reality. The numbers presented by the bureaucrats to ‘sell’ us the benefits of the regulation, are pure speculation and easy to pull apart. How dare they to present them as reliable, even facts? It’s not like they haven’t been made aware of the flaws in their logic and the errors in their calculations.

This just does not make sense. The market has chosen USB-C for now, most of it – without help from lawmakers. Leave it at that and leave the future open to new technology, improvements, better alternatives. There must be more pressing and useful issues the bureaucrats and politicians in Brussels can attack.

By the way, in 3 years most portable devices will have inductive (wireless) charging anyway. Will the chargers be compatible across devices and vendors? Maybe … but if they do, it will not be because of regulations.

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