During Apple’s iPhone 12 event last week, the Cupertino-based company was proud to provide environmental initiatives. Offices, data centers and stores are currently operating at 100% renewable energy and the company aims for net zero “climate impact” by 2030.
The redesign of Apple’s subconscious environment has been extended beyond corporate offices and malls. This year’s iPhones will not be shipped with earbuds or a charger, all in the name of reducing unnecessary waste. It allows 70% more iPhones to be shipped in pallets and, according to Lisa Jackson, VP of environment, policy and social initiatives at Apple, “it’s like removing 450,000 cars off the road each years. ”;
“It will not only help to reduce waste but also prevent the environmental impacts linked to the acquisition of basic raw materials, manufacturing and distribution of products,” said Teresa Domenech, a lecturer in industrial ecology at University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Resources, told CNBC.
Even then, there was a disagreement over Apple’s new ecological approach. For all the good that the company is expected to do, there is a dogged design quirk that will continue to remain, flying in the face of corporate activism. Apple still maintains its proprietary Lightning charge port. If the company really cares about the environment, it will switch to USB Type-C.
The hidden costs of the iPhone 12
According to Apple, there are currently 2 billion iPhones charging the adapter in the world, and not including third-parties. Many of these adapters use a standard rectangular USB Type-A port. But along with the iPhone 12 will be a USB Type-C with Lightning cable, making the old adapters incompatible.
Throughout Apple stores later this month, sales reps are likely to ask consumers if they have a USB Type-C compatible billing adapter. Some may, many may not. Of course, these users can also use their old 5W adapters and Type-A with lightning cables. But the new iPhone comes with fast charging, and for $ 19, users can upgrade to the latest charge adapters for quick power up. This reduces some of the environmental benefits.
At the moment, most tech worlds are switching to USB Type-C. All Android phones are currently standard and have been for years. Even the latest iPads and Macbooks that currently use Type-C, so it doesn’t seem like the connectivity standard is foreign to Apple. It left the iPhone as a rogue outlier, stubbornly sticking to outdated electrical pins as a way to keep iPhone users tied to a proprietary port.
If Apple switches to Type-C, it could allow the existing ecosystem of cables and adapters folded into the iPhone 12. Users with a new iPad or MacBook can roll out their existing charging accessories to maintain the charge of the iPhone 12s. Android users jumping on the iPhone can continue to use the charging adapters included with their old phones. Or anyone who knows an Android user may be piggybacked on their existing power setup.
Given the potential benefits of waste saving, Apple’s decision to stay with Lightning is even more surprising. And don’t forget that Apple will still need to ship small Type-C power adapters worldwide to accommodate the new cable included in the iPhone 12. While these new adapters will have a long shelf life, this will reduce the emissions savings that Apple is proud to be proud of.
Why not Apple turn off the Lightning port
So, why did Apple choose not to adopt Type-C for the iPhone when the obvious waste saving seems obvious?
It probably went down to earning. It’s hard to say exactly why Lightning remains, especially if Apple has already switched to USB-C on the iPad and Macbook, but we can imagine that on the iPhone is Apple’s most popular product category, accessory sales in the north tied to lightning is strong.
Cables and charging adapters are cheap to make. While Apple has not disclosed manufacturing costs, generally high-level charger production is only a couple cents. So, even with the assumption that the production, boxing, and shipping of adapters and cables come out for a dollar, priced at $ 19 a piece, it is easy money.
So far, Apple reports sales of cables and chargers along with other accessories such as Airpods and Apple Watch. This segment of Apple’s business is worth $ 10 billion in quarterly revenue. It is better on the Mac line by almost $ 3 billion. The financial incentive to switch to USB Type-C for the iPhone 12 could rob Apple of huge gains from accessory sales.
Overall, Apple’s move to exclude a phone billing adapter this year is good for the environment. Apple is often a trend setter, with the rest of the tech world following suit. Don’t be surprised if Samsung, LG, and others start removing accessories and making the boxes thinner (though they may not come in right away. Samsung case). And of course, the lack of inclusion of accessories will also increase revenue margins.
But don’t assume Apple has been altruistic about any of this. If it were, it would have killed Lightning years ago, instead of clinging to it with a stern death to prevent iPhone users from buying elsewhere.