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iPhone 15 and that powerful USB-C port – more than meets the eye! Will it REALLY be worth it?

Yup, the switch from lightning to USB-C is coming, but at what cost?

iPhone 15 and the USB-C port

All change

iPhone 15 is now less than six months away, and it looks as if the big change is happening.

Finally, in the face of international regulation changes from the European Union, this year’s iPhone will lose its slow, outdated, lightning port, and make the switch to USB-C.

And, with that switch, comes the very likely prospect of creating a shortage of a very unlikely, unsexy object – Apple’s 20W USB-C charger. Who’d have thought, something as innocuous as a charger, could suddenly become this year’s must-have Apple item?

Trust me, it’s not that I’ve had too much of the good stuff this weekend – allow me to explain…

The need for speed

I first picked up on the story, in a blog on Medium, and then a series of tweets from the ever reliable Ming-Chi Kuo.

There are a few reasons, that we could see demand for the 20W charger soar.

Firstly, iPhone 15 will not ship with a power adapter in the box. Secondly, Apple will make a big play about superfast charging on iPhone 15. But, you’ll only be able to tap in to that quick charging, with genuine Apple accessories, or ones that carry the MFi (made for iPhone) certificate on them.

The demand for the USB-C charger will arise when users discover they can’t use their old USB-A adapters, or the USB-A to lightning cables with this year’s iPhone. So, it becomes a perfect storm – no charging kits included, and the fact that the majority of the cheaper, non-MFi chargers won’t offer up fast charging either. Owners of the latest iPhone 15, keen to unleash the quick-charging capabilities of their shiny new handset, will then turn to buy the humble £19 charger.

Another factor that may make demand so high, could be that future iPhone 15 users might also purchase more than one 20W USB-C charger to save carrying one with them to say from the office to home.

Kuo said that Apple has significantly increased the total shipment forecast for 2Q23 and 3Q23, by 120% of its 20W USB-C charger, in readiness for the clamour they anticipate for them later this year. Their target for Q423 is to ship an astounding 70 million units of the charger.

Year-on-year, that is a growth of nigh on 40%. In total, they expect to ship close to 250 million units in 2023, thanks to the strong replacement demand.

A bad taste

The switch to a USB-C type port on iPhone 15 has not exactly been kept a secret. It was one of the first leaks to come out about the phone.

So, knowing that point for almost a year now, and that we also knew that Apple wouldn’t include a charger, why has the subject suddenly garnered so much attention? My guess is that if you’ve just spent over £1000 on the new iPhone, to then face the reality it has no charging-plug, and you can’t use your existing cables either, that it would be fair to feel less than chuffed!

iPhone 15 is rumoured to be going up in cost for the first time in a few years, so combine that, and the recession, the no-charger-included option could become a hot potato.

And don’t forget, the law passed down by the EU, was supposed to be mitigating e-waste. Oddly, it looks as if the exact opposite may be the reality if these predictions come true.

Marginally true

Apple, the company, is all about the margins.

Only this weekend, we learned that the execs at Apple are painfully aware that margins on the mixed reality headset will be way lower than normal. But, that is the exception to the rule, not the norm.

Apple makes an over 100% profit on iPhones. The cost to the company of making an iPhone is around $500. iPhones, are a luxury, high-end product, that carry a very healthy 100% profit margin.

Although, iPhone sales make a huge amount of money for the company, they have recently seen a slowdown in sales. The good times don’t last forever, and we know, historically, Apple is a fiscally cautious company.

So, making sure to stay ahead of that curve, Apple has been pushing hard in other areas of the business, such as services, accessories, and wearables. They want to avoid being caught napping, and not rely too heavily on iPhone sales.

Hard-nosed

Clearly, you don’t become the success that Apple is without knowing how to squeeze margins, and push sales.

But, to my mind, the less than consumer friendly side of the company bears its teeth with the MFi program. This program, outside of Apple geeks, is not widely known about. Originally, it was pitched as being a way that we consumers could be certain of Apple-esque quality in the accessories we buy.

But, there is a growing suspicion that may not be the only reason behind Apple being so keen on their MFi program. Being subtly coerced in to having repairs carried-out, or buying spares from companies that are part of the program makes great sense for Apple – it’s another healthy, and diversified stream of revenue.

Not only do third-party companies have to go through a lengthy, and costly procedure to become MFi certified in the first place, they also hand over a healthy margin on each sale too.

It’s fair to argue, then, that in locking down iPhone 15 to work only with either Apple’s own accessories, or those that are MFi certified, is a smart move. Not for the consumer – but most certainly for the company.

Faced with being forced in to change, it’s almost as if they have found a way to stick up the proverbial two fingers at the lawmakers. Once again, Apple will come out the winners, and smelling of roses.

An odd reality

Apart from the EU’s desire to reduce e-waste, there was also a desire to break Apple’s proprietary strangle-hold on consumers.

The very idea behind the demand to use USB-C ports on all hand-held electronic items, such as phones and tablets, was to create ease of use and break the monopoly Apple had held with their lightning cable.

But, as the dust settles, it would look as if the utopia of one cable-fits-all has still fallen short of the mark. After all the furore, it appears a status-quo, for Apple at least, has been achieved.

The idea that one cable would work across all devices, even Android phones, has still not quite happened. If you want all have all the benefits that Apple has to offer with iPhone 15, then you are still stuck with having to buy from Apple.

Wrapping up

When you think of, or mention Apple, there are few things that come to mind – well, my mind at least.

Cutting-edge design, quality, attention to detail, and, right up there, would also be customer satisfaction. Which makes me wonder if Apple has become greedy, and, possibly, even lost sight of the customer.

Yes, they’ll make some extra money by forcing us to buy MFi gear, but at what cost? Will the extra money in the bank be worth the bad taste that it’ll leave in users’ mouths?

Apple customers tend to be brand loyal, but also reasonably savvy. There will be a tipping point when customers have enough of Apple winning at all cost, and, making our lives harder, and more awkward in the process.

Apple – in a push for profit, don’t lose sight of what got you to the top of the mountain – your customers. The time has come to show you are still putting us first.

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