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EU Iphone Apple

iPhone 5 Scorns Standards Promise To European Commission 543

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-have-found-that-customers-enjoy-paying-money dept.
WebMink writes "Back in 2009, Apple signed an agreement aimed at reducing electronic waste resulting from mobile phone accessories. But this week's launch of the iPhone 5 shows them reneging on that commitment. Instead of including a micro-USB connector on the iPhone, as they agreed to do along with the rest of the phone industry, they created yet another proprietary connector. At a stroke, they have junked earlier iPhone accessories, forced a new industry in Apple-only accessories to arise and broken their promise to the EC. It's a huge missed opportunity both for their customers and for the environment."
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iPhone 5 Scorns Standards Promise To European Commission

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  • I was under the impression that Apple's dock connectors were designed such that they could be plugged into various accessories (speaker docks, etc.) without the need for a lot of processing power to play music and such.

    Wouldn't using USB make this a major challenge for the companies building the accessories? After all, USB requires some heavy lifting on the host side.

    • by petteyg359 (1847514) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:01PM (#41340695)

      Hardly. Any "smart phone" has plenty of CPU power to be a USB host, and various Android devices have been promoting that feature for several months.

      • by SScorpio (595836) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:44PM (#41341303)

        Or they could be the Samsung Galaxy II and III and support MHL.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_High-Definition_Link [wikipedia.org]

        MHL supports power to the device, CEC standard remote control for media playback control, 1080p uncompressed video, and 8 channels of uncompressed audio.

        The only issue with MHL is that Apple doesn't paid any royalties for every device that uses the connector. The Roku Stick which is a full Roku that is the size of a large thumb drive is pretty neat as well.

        • by Guspaz (556486) on Friday September 14, 2012 @07:19PM (#41342125)

          MHL doesn't, however, allow the device to power the adapter needed to actually connect it to anything (like a TV). And since MHL doesn't define any connector standard, the convention of violating the USB spec by hijacking micro USB ports isn't even consistent.

          Want to connect your Samsung Galaxy S III to an HDMI television? No problem, you'll just need an 11-pin to 5-pin MHL adapter, a 5-pin MHL to HDMI adapter, some sort of external USB power source (MHL doesn't guarantee power, so not all devices can power an adapter properly), and a USB-to-micro-USB adapter to get the power to the MHL adapter... Oh yeah, and an HDMI cable.

          If I want to connect an iDevice to a television, I need one adapter, and one HDMI cable. Two components. If I want to connect an MHL device to a television, I potentially need up to six components.

          Why would I ever want to do this? MHL is a terrible idea on so many levels, and even when it works perfectly (with the minimum possible number of components), you've still managed to violate the USB spec.

    • by icebike (68054) * on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:06PM (#41340779)

      Wouldn't using USB make this a major challenge for the companies building the accessories?

      There are no shortage of accessories for Android phones, so I guess the answer to your question is and emphatic NO.

      There are a small handful of USB compatible sockets that allow charging with a standard USB charger, even though a slightly different cable can do additional things, such as direct HDMI tv connections, allow you to mount disk drives and thumb drives to the phone, etc.

      The idea is that if you forgot your charger cable, you could still charge your phone without buying a high priced proprietary charger. Any cheap USB charger cable would do.

      The fact that you couldn't dock with your bedside speakers was never the issue. Most people don't travel with those.

      • by emt377 (610337) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:45PM (#41341323)

        The idea is that if you forgot your charger cable, you could still charge your phone without buying a high priced proprietary charger.

        No, the idea is to get rid of the proprietary charger. The wall wart. Apple have always charged off USB, and Apple USB chargers can be used to charge any device with a USB cable.

        • The idea is that if you forgot your charger cable, you could still charge your phone without buying a high priced proprietary charger.

          No, the idea is to get rid of the proprietary charger. The wall wart. Apple have always charged off USB, and Apple USB chargers can be used to charge any device with a USB cable.

          My iPad2 does not charge if I plug the Apple connector cable into my standard USB charger. Has that changed?

    • by DMiax (915735)
      It does not have to be a USB for everything. What the EC asked was for USB to be the shape of the charging port. Anyway it cannot be too hard: other companies had no trouble adapting without loss of quality. Plus the EC is fine if they simply include an adapter from USB, IIRC.
      • Plus the EC is fine if they simply include an adapter from USB, IIRC.

        How do creating adapters fit with the goal of producing less waste?

      • by icebike (68054) *

        Plus the EC is fine if they simply include an adapter from USB, IIRC.

        Well, no, the EC is not fine with that. That was Apple's response last time, some silly little converter dongle that was MORE likely to be lost or forgotten while traveling than the cable itself. But because Apple was already committed on the iPhone 4 design at that point they got a pass.

        Fast forward 2 years, and Apple just abrogates the entire agreement because their engineers are too dumb to figure out what every other phone manufacturer has already figured out.

        • by Junta (36770)

          Fast forward 2 years, and Apple just abrogates the entire agreement because their engineers are too dumb to figure out what every other phone manufacturer has already figured out.

          It almost certainly isn't because their engineers are inept, it is almost certainly because Apple executives want to enrich the dock accessory royalty revenue and keep an iron grip on customers. The moment Apple makes it easy to acheive functionality through standards (e.g. USB standard devices), a revenue stream dries up and lockin is reduced.

    • by kenorland (2691677) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:09PM (#41340823)

      Android devices not only support USB Host (and support it well), the same micro-USB connector is also used for HD video and audio via MHL. Samsung shows that you can make a micro-USB connector that allows simultaneous micro-USB, charging, and MHL connections.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        Android devices not only support USB Host (and support it well), the same micro-USB connector is also used for HD video and audio via MHL. Samsung shows that you can make a micro-USB connector that allows simultaneous micro-USB, charging, and MHL connections.

        Yes, but that is not a standard MicroUSB port on the Samsung. Go count pins.
        Its compatible with any Mirco USB charger for charging purposes. But its not strictly a MicroUSB port. Its got something like 11 pins or something.

        That solution works for the EU's purpose.
        Too many people buying unnecessary chargers and cables at ridiculous prices while traveling, only to throw them all away again when they change phones.

      • by msauve (701917)
        "you can make a micro-USB connector that allows simultaneous micro-USB, charging, and MHL connections."

        That' semi-correct, but in practice it's of limited utility. You can have a micro-USB connector, which can work as either USB or MHL, not both at the same time, as you claim. When it's running as MHL, what would normally be the USB data lines are in active use for MHL, so it's impossible to sense that a USB charger (which basically shorts the data lines together to indicate its presence) is connected, an
    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:22PM (#41341003) Homepage Journal

      USB is better because I have a bunch of USB cables right here. When my son loses his apple charging cable I have to go out and buy a new apple licensed cable.

  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @04:59PM (#41340669)

    From TFA:

    "Which is the agreed common interface?

    On the basis of the Micro-USB interface, the companies have agreed to develop a common specification in order to allow for full compatibility of chargers and mobile phones. These specifications have been translated in European standards.

    N.B.: The agreement allows for the use of an adaptor."

    Apple supplies adaptors, therefore they're not "scorning" the agreement.

    • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:27PM (#41341061)

      Apple supplies adaptors, therefore they're not "scorning" the agreement.

      Exactly correct. This agreement has already been in place for years, as the summary was quick to point out, but they failed to note the fact that Apple has been complying all along by including adapters. You can expect the same to be true for the iPhone 5 as well.

      And even if they had they changed to micro-USB, they would have exactly the same problems as the ones being cited in the summary, so this strikes me as a bit of a double standard. Since the data handling via USB on smartphones is not standardized, meaning that there is not necessarily any interoperability between devices with a particular accessory, you'd still have an industry dedicated to making Apple-specific accessories, simply due to the volume of devices that they could work with. Similarly, you would have rendered all of the previous accessories obsolete by moving to a new standard, and you'd have also been forced to introduce a new adapter. Also worth noting is that micro-USB is incapable of charging an iPad [brockerhoff.net] according to that article, which this new dock connector will surely be used for.

      The only argument left from the summary is that they've broken their promise to abide by the standard, and as you aptly pointed out, that is untrue.

      Considering how often this stuff has come up on Slashdot (particularly with the fact that it was a major point of discussion when the new dock connector leaked a few weeks back), I'm surprised it's not common knowledge on Slashdot how Apple has handled that agreement, even for our non-European friends.

      • You're missing a small but very important detail: Apple does not include the necessary adapter, which was part of the agreement.
        The claim that microUSB can't safely supply 2A seems a bit farfetched, but the iPad is irrelevant here because it's not a phone and it hasn't been updated yet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, you're missing a small but important detail. In regions where the agreement applies, Apple ships the phone with the required adaptor.

  • All connectors wear out. Id micro usb the best possible? No. But it strikes a good compromise and likely does reduce wast, though I have no studies to back that up.
    Apple: The bottom line and 'image' are most important. To that end we only play at giving an actual two shits about you, our workers, and the environment.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      Apple has been complying since that ruling was made, they give European buyers a little adapter.

      The new Lightning connector (not a fan of that name, btw) has some benefits over micro-usb. Reports say that it plugs into the phone pretty securely. When I use micro-USB on my Kindle, I can tell you it doesn't feel like the most secure thing. More importantly from an ease of use perspective, the new connector doesn't have to be plugged in a specific way, there is no "up".

      I'm curious to see what the pinout ends

  • Thinness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:07PM (#41340805)
    I still don't really understand the rationale behind the new connector. It seems the whole motivation for it was to make the iPhone thinner... which, I don't see as a real selling point at this point, especially given all the frustration with having to replace accessories or buy a new set of $30 adapters, and the fact that the iPhone 4s is really thin enough. As for simplicity, it really goes against the Apple aesthetic. One picture [cloudfront.net] from the event made that evident.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the industry seems to be moving away from wires and toward wireless. Wireless payments, wireless charging, wireless audio, etc. with NFC and other related technologies. Apple is for some strange reason the last to adopt these innovations, and it will be a whole year before they come up with an answer. In the mean time, they're piling on connectors and dongles galore. It's very strange.
    • Wireless payments, wireless charging, wireless audio, etc. with NFC and other related technologies.

      Apple has adopted Bluetooth LE (as have other companies) which allow all those things to occur. NFC is not required for any of those things.

      Furthermore Apple instead of providing NFC, has a much more practical means (for the U.S.) of electronic payment in Passbook. There's almost no NFC support in the U.S..

      Apple of course also heavily promotes AirPlay, which is quite wireless...

      In the mean time, they're pili

  • My pet peeve... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:07PM (#41340807)

    The proprietary connector, whether it's the old one or the new one, is the reason I don't buy Apple gadgets (although I do buy and love Apple's laptops). The recent development that all devices use microusb for charging is the best thing ever. I can charge my Kindle, cellphone, cordless mouse, and bluetooth hands-free, all with the same, omnipresent standard cable.

    A couple of years ago, I worked in a small desert town in Iran. I had forgotten to bring the Apple cord for my iPod Touch. I had any number of "normal" usb cords available, including micro and mini, but there was no place where I could get hold of an Apple cord. My iPod was useless. I can't believe they still haven't wised up to the idea of a standard connector.

    Certainly a pet peeve of mine. If it wasn't for the stupid connector, my awesome Macbook Pro would be connected to an iPhone right now, instead of to a Galaxy S3.

  • by hxnwix (652290) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:10PM (#41340843) Journal

    If you invest in accessories for the new connector, you'll be less inclined to buy a non-Apple phone.

    Perhaps their connector has additional pins for HDMI, but they could have placed a real HDMI connector beside the USB connector for easy docking. Alternately, they could sell a dongle to pipe HDMI video out from USB2 as other manufacturers already do.

    But then they couldn't lock their customers in and charge exorbitant licensing fees for their connector.

    • by MBCook (132727)
      They have actually said they will be selling Lighting to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters. I'm interested in finding out what the pinout is. I doubt it carries pins dedicated to HDMI. The adapters could be active devices. One of the reasons for the $30 and $40 cost on the adapters (besides "they can") is that they have DACs for audio, since the new connector doesn't have analog audio pins.
  • Hyperbolie much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rabtech (223758)

    Geez, nice hyperbolic story.

    First, Apple is keeping to the requirement by offering a micro-USB cable.

    Second, the reason they didn't use micro-USB is because it doesn't have the requisite number of pins. As we saw with Thunderbolt, the USB folks will *not* allow you to add non-standard pins to their connector.

    This connector must support at least 2 amps of charging for the iPad (in the future presumably). That puts micro-USB right out of the picture.

    It must also support digitally sending all the data necessar

  • by nullchar (446050) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:17PM (#41340935)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdIWKytq_q4 [youtube.com]

    Enjoy watching Apple fans "fall in love" with the "new" iPhone 5 !

    (Spoiler: they're all playing with an iPhone 4s, thinking it's the new iPhone 5)

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:10PM (#41343301)

      So most people is the street don't currently have even an iPhone 4S, but when they're given the chance to play with it they realise t's better in some ways that the phone they do have.

      The very last guy on the tape says he does currently have an iPhone 4S. But hey, you video people all day long and you're bound to find saying something that isn't true. Either because they are trying to impress, or because they just don't actually know the right answer.

      You want me to show you a YouTube video showing that Americans don't know where Australia is?

  • by Master Of Ninja (521917) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:23PM (#41341023)
    This is just another misleading story - Apple actually has complied by providing an adaptor for charging. They specification that they are adhering to is the Common External Power Supply [wikipedia.org] and allows the use of adaptors. They already have on for older type of dock connector. I suspect Apple has valid reasons as they want data transfer to be as fast as possible with their proprietary adaptors, but still allow micro-usb charging if people want it.
  • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Friday September 14, 2012 @05:47PM (#41341351)
    Someone posted some interesting points in the linked article, I've pasted it here. ( Don't shoot the messenger who is an android fan.) Discuss... *** “Apple has reneged on that commitment to the European Commission to change to micro-USB”. This is simply false. Undertaking 4.2.1 states that “if a manufacturer makes available an Adaptor from the Micro-USB connector of a Common EPS to a specific non-Micro-USB socket in the Mobile Phone, it shall constitute compliance”. —http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise... Annex II futher states that “An EPS provided with a detachable cable shall be equipped with a USB Standard-A receptacle. Above requirement also applies to detachable cables used as adaptor i.e. where the Micro-B is replaced by a proprietary plug” —http:// ec.europa.eu/enterprise... Apple’s decision not to use a Micro-USB connector is in keeping with the agreement, as they also offer a Micro-USB to Lightning adaptor. Their charger also appears to be a common EPS, so that any USB-A to Micro-USB cable can be used with it to charge any other compliant phone; and the iPhone 5 can be charge from any other common EPS with a detachable cable (i.e. with a USB-A port, as per the standard."

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