The Real Reason Apple Doesn’t Want To Add A USB-C Port To The iPhone

Jano le Roux on 2022-07-07

Should Apple go portless or add a USB-C port to the iPhone?

Photo by Adam Birkett on Unsplash

Apple’s Lightning connector sucks.

And I am a huge Apple fanboy.

But I feel deeply conflicted.

Two years ago Apple removed the brick from my iPhone box to save the planet. I get that. It helped with carbon emissions.

It also saved Apple $6.5B.

But if the planet is so important to Apple, how has Apple not removed the Lightning connector from my cable to save the planet since 2012?

I’ll tell you why.

Because this time it will cost Apple more than $6.5B.

It’s easy to save the planet when it benefits your bottom line. But true leadership is shown when you take action knowing that it will affect your bottom line and still have the courage to push through.

How much does Apple make from its Lightning cables?

Apple sold more than 2.2 billion iPhones and more than 360 million iPads before they stopped making numbers public.

Some people need extra cables:

And some people break the in-the-box Lightning cables and have to replace them.

Say for every second iPhone or iPad sold, a user bought just one extra Apple Lightning cable for $19 which probably costs Apple around $1 (if not less) to make.

That’s give or take $43.5B on Lightning cable sales alone.

But let’s put this in context.

Imagine you climb a staircase with every step packed with $100,000 in freshly printed bills — a respectable yearly salary in the US. Taking that you’re eager to climb, it takes you around a second to climb each step.

Just imagine the legs you’d have after that climb!

No wonder Apple doesn’t want to make its cables more durable.

And this is without even looking at the hundreds of millions Apple gets from third-party cable companies through the MFi certification royalty program.

Apple already admitted the USB-C cable is better

When Apple launched the iPad Pro with the M1 in 2021, it came with a USB-C port. And they basically bashed their own Lightning cables calling the USB-C port:

“The fastest, most versatile port ever on an iPad or any other device of its kind.”

Previously the iPad used the same Lightning port the iPhone uses.

By saying the USB-C port is faster and more versatile than any port before on an iPad, Apple is indirectly bashing the Lightning cable still used for the iPhone.

If there is a faster port on the market, and people have USB-C cables in their homes already why not reduce waste and include it on the iPhone?

That’s exactly what the EU asked Apple.

Instead of talking about the $43.5B, Apple explained to Reuters that banning the Lightning cable in Europe will “stifle innovation” and that it would “harm consumers in Europe and around the world”.

But that leaves us with another question.

Will Apple rather go portless than USB-C?

Apple loves being in control.

Just take a look at its YouTube channel.

Comments are always turned off — and it’s not by accident.

Besides the whole money thing, maybe Apple just wants to be in control of what quality chargers users use in the first place. Adding a USB-C port will mean people might plug any trashy little USB-C cable into its seamless iPhones.

The EU reached its agreement saying by fall 2024:

“Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer.”

By fall 2024, all iPhones will thus have to use a USB-C cable — right?

Uhm, not necessarily.

Notice how the words “wired cable” are called out directly.

Apple has slowly but surely been working on its wireless charging technology in the background. It’s not as efficient as a wire connection yet, but it’s getting there and we still have 2 years to go.

Soon after the EU’s decision, Brazil launched a public consultation to make USB-C chargers the only permitted wired smartphone charger for new devices sold in the country.

Now Elizabeth Warren is pushing for similar legislation in the US.

But the question is, how far is Apple willing to go to stay in control?

Instead of losing market share in the cable market, Apple could just remove the wired charging port entirely leaving users to come back for its wireless MagSafe charging cables instead.

So the big question:

Should Apple go portless or add a USB-C port to the iPhone?

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