Apple will change the primary cable port for its iPhone to comply with new EU rules which require every new smartphone to work with a common USB-C charging cable by 2024, a company executive said on Tuesday.
Two high-profile Apple executives hinted they weren’t particularly happy with the new rules when discussing them onstage Tuesday at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Originally, Apple thought it had reached a compromise with EU regulators by offering a lanyard in the box with its iPhones that plugged into USB-C on one end and its proprietary Lightning cable the other.
“We have no choice – as we do all over the world, [Apple will] comply with local laws,” 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 not to have such a prescriptive government.”
Apple regularly adds USB-C ports to its Mac Computers and iPad tablets. It is also said to be work on iPhones with USB-C ports for a while now, so it’s not a very surprising admission.
Yet the move is a rare public acknowledgment from the world’s most beloved company about the future of its products, and particularly how new government rules are shaping its business. While selling Lightning cables at $19 each isn’t what made Apple billions in profit, the proprietary nature of its technology has helped it create a brand ecosystem accessories specially designed for its devices.
For the past two decades, Apple has allowed its 30-pin connector for the iPodthen Lightning connector for iPhone and iPad, to manufacturers of accessories for create speakers, camera accessories and all sorts of other items.
“It’s a great connector and over a billion people already have it,” Joswiak said. When asked how Apple would integrate USB-C into the iPhone, he declined to discuss specifics. “The Europeans are the ones dictating the schedule to European customers.”
On stage, Joswiak and his colleague Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, answered more questions about the company’s business. They sent back bring iMessage to devices powered by Google’s Android softwareclaiming that the company would not be able to invest as much in an Android version and would therefore stifle innovation.
The pair coyly answered questions about future products, like if there will ever be a Mac computer with a touchscreen. “Who’s that to say?” Federighi replied
He spoke more forcefully about returning employees to the office, an issue that has raised unusual public controversy between the company and its staff. When Apple started talking about back-to-work plans last year, a group of employees pushed back, saying they were worried about health and safety issues, especially those for whom exposure to the COVID-19 virus could harm them or a member of their family.
“Our whole culture is about being in one place together, creating products in close interdisciplinary teams, and that’s who we are,” Federighi said, adding that the petitions published publicly online comes from “I don’t know, a 10th percent Apple employees.”
“Of course, there are people who moved to Kansas and said, ‘This is where I want to be,'” he added. “Are they Apple employees? They’re an Apple employee. But I think a lot of us are excited to be able to engage with each other. And I think that’s important.”
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