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Apple Faces Potential Regulation of iPhone Chargers in EU

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Is there trouble in store for the lightening port?

Citing consumer complaints, regulators in the EU are proposing a common cellphone charger and have set their sights on Apple (AAPL 1.37%). In this video clip from "The 5," recorded on Sept. 24, Fool.com contributors Brian Withers, Neil Patel, Demitri Kalogeropoulos, and Jason Hall consider whether Apple should be worried about this potential new legislation. 

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Brian Withers: The headline is Apple faces off with Europe regulators, but wait, there's more, over phone chargers. Yeah, seriously, so EU is proposing that Apple that they consolidate all cellphones, all mobile phones into this USB, I think C thing that the Android phones use. That would effectively ban iPhones lightning port, the flat little piece that go in there and it says, I love this quote, "European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible charges piling up in their drawers." They said in the press release, "We gave the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions. Now time is right for legislative action, for a common charger." Is this a good idea? Is this an overreach for the EU? Neil? [laughs]

Neil Patel: I saw this new story in a daily newsletter. Again, I was like seriously, is this what we have to talk about today and this look making news? It's high level. I just think the EU's had it out for Big Tech. This is just another example of that. I think the EU's main goal here is the waste. I think there's other steps that we can take to clean up the environment than focus on this in what I think. The EU mentioned consumer complaints. Well, those same consumers are still buying the iPhone, and so it's not that big of a complaint that's turning them away from buying the actual product. Then I think Apple argued, well, if this does get implemented, first of all, it's only going to cost Apple like one billion dollars or something to change their manufacturing, so nothing to them. But Apple argue, well what happens to all of the lightning cords out there? That's going to create waste. I just think this is just an example of the EU trying to figure out another way to target a Big Tech company, and they are behind the curve. I mean, technology moves to fast.

Demitri Kalogeropoulos: Yeah. If they can make this change by Thanksgiving so we can all share each other's cords when we go home. [laughs]

Jason Hall: Exactly. [laughs]

Withers: That would be great.

Kalogeropoulos: I was reading the article too. I was pretty amazed by the fact that if you look in the fine print there, this is a proposal that would have to be passed by the EU member states individually and then by the EU collectively, and then they would have to build in all this time for manufacturers to actually implement these recommendations once they do it and legislate it. As we know from the US that legislation takes a long time even under the best scenario. I think they were estimating this might be three years before this even impacted actual manufacturing. Who knows what the influence is going to look like in three years or probably wearing some version of it by then? I don't think Apple has much to worry about there.

Hall: I think that actually this is a perfect example of why it's good the regulatory processes are glacial, is because by the time they figure out how to come up with something, it won't matter because we'll all be charging all of our devices wirelessly anyway. [laughs]

Withers: That's what I'm hoping.

Hall: It'll keep the regulators focusing on this thing instead of meddling in other stuff. [laughs] Everybody wins.

Withers: Yeah. well, I am relieved that we're years away from making Apple change their plug.

Neil Patel owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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