Apple planned to use its own Lightning connector for the iPhone until it could completely abandon ports, says insider Mark Gurman from Bloomberg.
However, due to the decision of the European Union, which requires mobile device manufacturers to switch to the USB-C standard by the end of next year, Apple had to change course. The tech giant plans to unveil the iPhone 15 on September 12, and it is the first smartphone to feature USB-C connectors in all four new models. Although Apple did not initiate this change, it is expected to be presented as a significant advantage for consumers.
Apple will emphasize several key benefits of switching iPhone to USB-C:
- Universal charging cable: Users will be able to use one charging cable for iPhone, Mac, and iPad;
- Faster data transfer: New high-end iPhone models will get a significant increase in data speeds;
- Fast charging: In some cases, smartphones will charge faster than before;
- Wider compatibility: The new iPhones will be compatible with chargers used in billions of other manufacturers’ devices.
Apple will likely avoid mentioning the European Union’s role in these changes during its keynote presentation. The company has always tried to act from a position of strength when introducing new products or interacting with the media. Previously, Apple opposed the USB-C transition, citing environmental concerns and the possibility for governments to unduly influence product design.
However, the transition to USB-C will not be without challenges for Apple:
- Loss of licensing revenue: Apple will lose some of the revenue from accessory manufacturers who used the Lightning connector and had to pay for certification under the Apple Made for iPhone (MFI) program;
- Allocation of resources: The company will have to invest engineering resources and capital to make the transition;
- Increased compatibility risks: This step can make it easier for customers to migrate to Android devices;
- Potential PR problems: Apple faced backlash when it switched to the Lightning connector in 2012 and when it removed the headphone jack in 2014.
Over the past decade, Apple has built a huge ecosystem of Lightning accessories, likely earning tens of millions of dollars each quarter in royalties. The company has announced plans to limit the functions of unauthorized USB-C accessories by directing consumers to MFI-certified products. However, the widespread use of USB-C peripherals is expected to reduce Apple’s royalty revenues.
To ease the transition to the new port for consumers, Apple will include a USB-C cable in the box, but it is unlikely to include a compatible charger. Customers using chargers from the iPhone 11 or earlier models will have to purchase a new power supply with a USB-C port, which may cause dissatisfaction among some users.