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Apple looks to make money from the switch to USB-C

Legislation in the European Union to reduce e-waste will force Apple to standardize USB-C charging. But it seems the company is already planning to make money from this switch.
an Apple Lightning cable
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

The European Union has legislated that devices are going to have to standardize on USB-C as the charging mechanism in order to reduce e-waste. This common charger legislation requiring all smartphones and accessories to use USB-C will come into force in 2024.

While most Android devices have already standardized on USB-C, one company has been holding out on making this change -- Apple.

Well, you could say that Apple has embraced USB-C in many ways. It's used on the iPad, and Macs switched up entirely to using the port until the recent MacBook Pros started to add back other ports.

Also: Using the wrong USB-C cable can damage your tech

But when it comes to the iPhone and AirPods, Apple is, for now at least, sticking to Lightning.

But the iPhone 14 is likely to be the last iPhone to make use of Lightning. Apple will then have to move to USB-C or remove the port and go totally wireless.

But, according to TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is not going to be in a rush to make the switch here. When it comes to the AirPods, Kuo predicts that Apple "will launch USB-C-capable charging cases for all AirPods models in 2023" for those users who want to standardize on USB-C, and if the current replacement case prices for AirPods are anything to go by, this will set you back at least $60.

And according to Kuo, Apple will also try the same with the AirPods Pro 2, with these slated to initially ship in the second half of 2022 with a Lightning-compatible case.

A USB-C case for the AirPods Pro 2 is likely to cost around $100.

What does the end of the line for Lightning mean for the iPhone and, more importantly, iPhone owners?

If Apple switches the iPhone to USB-C -- and the consensus is that they will -- then I think this is going to mean dongles.

Lots of dongles.

And we know just how much Apple likes dongles.

Also: Why you shouldn't leave charging cables plugged into your power bank

If Apple does go wireless, then the place where a dongle is going to be needed is CarPlay. Not everyone is going to want to buy a new car because they've upgraded their iPhone. A wireless adapter would solve this issue (for those looking to break free of the wire, you can already buy wireless CarPlay dongles).

The switch is also going to mean a lot of accessories getting junked over the next few years, although given how long iPhones last, the full transition to USB-C will take many years. So hopefully, those accessories still have a few useful years in them.

But if Kuo is right -- and he's right a lot more than he is wrong -- then Apple is going to wait until the last possible minute to make the transition to USB-C and use it as a way to sell more accessories.

Which does seem to be the way Apple does things.

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