Apple Versus the EU: When Client Needs Clash with Government Requirements

In other words, European statism is at work again.

“Could Apple be forced into charger redesign by EU?” asks Arjun Karpal of CNBC. As an engineer, I find it always tempting to come up with the "perfect" spec - and a reason why procurement needs to separate "gold-plating" efforts to create an ideal product, from features and qualities that address real customer needs and wants.

Bureaucrats, on the other hand, rarely have such restraints placed upon them, and pie-in-the sky agendas are legion. Currently, the EU bureaucratniks want to tackle "charger dongle proliferation" in the marketplace. Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod must be in charge of the effort, since there can only be one! One adapter, that is.

Lord knows it's annoying to match the right device with the right charger, but will a single charger for all devices be practical, given a broader range of criteria?

First, note that a late model iPad needs around 2.1 amps at 5V to charge effectively. Newer smartphones draw around 1.5 amps, and lesser devices drop down to 0.7A or less. Since current draws operate much like water through pipes, dropping the draw means being able to use a much smaller, more efficient design. Conversely, being forced to use an overlarge adapter where a smaller one would do will only lead to excess power consumption. The laws of physics apply even in the EU.

Then you have dongle and charger design criteria. Let’s say someone comes up with a clever design that revolutionizes the industry. Good luck getting that adopted with a law against its use in place. Just look at the British Commonwealth countries and their continued use of gigantic power plugs with built-in fuses decades after electrical standards have improved, rendering them obsolete.

Finally, if the EU implements this "boondongle," they'd be in violation of at least the spirit behind their own Energy Star program. After all, because of physics, a larger charger would be needed to cover all mobile devices and thus lead to excess electrical consumption.

What's next - an EU directive against entropy?

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