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iPhone standardization: EU regulations benefit US consumers

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Becka Bowyer

Apple is likely to announce its latest iPhone models will have a USB-C port instead of the standard Lightning connector. The change follows legislation in the European Union requiring the use of USB-C on all smartphones with a physical port sold in member countries.

Aija Leiponen

Professor of Economics

Aija Leiponen, professor at Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, says this is a great example of how thoughtful legislation can enhance consumer benefits.

Leiponen says:

“This removes one source of add-on monopoly revenue for companies like Apple. They used to charge extra for device chargers that would only work with certain devices, so consumers needed to buy a new charger for every new device, even if they had several chargers already at home.

“Now phone makers can no longer generate extra profits from this inefficient and undesirable product feature. This is a simple but great example of how thoughtful regulation and legislation can enhance consumer benefits by addressing excessive market power.

“It is interesting to see how European regulations are adopted by U.S. companies because it does not make financial sense to produce many different versions of the same product for different markets. We have seen similar adoption of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by U.S. companies even if they don’t operate in the EU, just because those regulations become global standards that influence everyone in the industry.”

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