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View Full Version : EU battery rule may zap iPhone, blow away MacBook Air


MacBytes
Oct 9, 2008, 08:54 AM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: EU battery rule may zap iPhone, blow away MacBook Air (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20081009095417)
Description:: The EU is readying a new set of directives that could spell trouble for Apple's iPhone and any other gadget that lacks an easily removable power pack.

A new, draft batteries directive mandates that power cells inside electronic devices must be "readily removable" for replacement and safe disposal. This isn't the case with the iPhone, which does not have a user-replaceable battery.

Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

AlphaBob
Oct 9, 2008, 09:20 AM
The EU ruling makes perfect sense to me. I see little to no advantage to Apple and others in having non-removable batteries. Tear-down photographs even show batteries with connectors inside the hard-to-open cases.

This sort of ruling might force Apple's hands, which would be a great thing.

(Of course the moment you have a removable battery you also open yourself, as a company, to lawsuits when 3rd party batteries, installed by end-users, fail).

Given my heavy use of the iPhone and need to charge it several times a day, having a battery that I could swap out would be great.

shadowfax
Oct 9, 2008, 09:34 AM
Apple is stubborn and stalwart. The most likely end result of this is that Apple will not sell their iPods, iPhones, and MBAs within the EU.

There are most certainly reasons for not providing an opening in the case for batteries. This has been discussed time and time again. Whether or not you agree with the justifications, you should be able to observe that they provide a cleaner design with smaller, more structurally sound casing.

Legislating whether a company makes their batteries user-replaceable is nothing short of an asinine attempt to control a side of the market that should be free. is the EU worried that people don't recycle their iPods? Not aware that if you can replace your own battery, chances are you're a lot more likely to THROW IT AWAY yourself than Apple is? No, never mind that if you send in to Apple you are guaranteed that they will recycle your old battery for you. Are they trying to suggest that users should be able to take out batteries and throw their iPods away? Unfortunately, you shouldn't do that either. There are other nasty chemicals in there that need to be processed properly.

And if all you're looking for is convenience, why are you hiding behind legislation like a coward? Buy another product with your dollar vote.

gmeddles
Oct 9, 2008, 09:53 AM
Apple is stubborn and stalwart. The most likely end result of this is that Apple will not sell their iPods, iPhones, and MBAs within the EU.

That's just not at all realistic in a public company with shareholders who are already having a bad month. That market is far too large for Apple to walk away from. The real question is how much revenue will Apple be deriving from disposable technology by the time these rules would finally be implemented. iPods are now ubiquitous, so their long term revenue growth is already highly in doubt (see Woz's recent comments). iPhones are so essential to Apple's revenue growth that there is no choice but to comply with any regulation (even the completely absurd) coming out of the EU, a much larger market for cell phones that the US. As to the the MBA, it's very much a niche product in a small, but highly competitive product space. The lack of a replaceable battery already hurts it competitively, so I would expect it to change as well long term. We'll know a lot more about Apple's intended direction for laptops shortly, though. Won't we?

imagineer2000
Oct 9, 2008, 10:34 AM
Legislating whether a company makes their batteries user-replaceable is nothing short of an asinine attempt to control a side of the market that should be free. is the EU worried that people don't recycle their iPods?

I have to agree here. However, one thing I have noticed with EU regulations is that many of them are vague. "readily replaceable" is not the same as "user replaceable" since the pillar behind the ruling is to ensure that batteries are recycled rather than tossed, my guess is Apple will reach an agreement with the EU, perhaps even offering over and above the incentives Apple already offers for recycling.

"Recycle and get free iTunes" may ring out in the EU.

quagmire
Oct 9, 2008, 10:38 AM
If this passes, I bet the only thing Apple will do is offer iPhone batteries for sale and include instructions on how to open up the device, etc.

I also disagree with it. If a person buys an iPhone, iPod, MBA, etc and knows the battery isn't friendly to users to replace it( as it is relatively easy to open up an iPod, etc to change the battery), then they agree to live with it. But, if they buy it and still complain, then they are an idiot. You can still list it as a drawback, but don't moan about how Apple is evil, etc because you bought the product anyway full knowing the flaws of it.

davidgrimm
Oct 9, 2008, 11:11 AM
If you can't beat Apple products in the marketplace, lobby the governing body to somehow restrict their access in that marketplace. One way to do that is the non-removable batteries. Its common to many Apple products and still leaves some competing products out there.

Of course, once Apple products are out of the marketplace, consumers will have fewer choices and that always means higher prices, more market share for the remaining products, and more profits for the companies all without the cost of actually designing a better product. Freedom from choice. I just glad that the European customers are getting screwed this time, not the US based customers. It makes for a nice change of pace...

whooleytoo
Oct 9, 2008, 04:18 PM
Legislating whether a company makes their batteries user-replaceable is nothing short of an asinine attempt to control a side of the market that should be free. is the EU worried that people don't recycle their iPods? Not aware that if you can replace your own battery, chances are you're a lot more likely to THROW IT AWAY yourself than Apple is?

Why should it be regulation-free?

All consumer devices are sent to be recycled at their end-of-life, with different components disposed of in different ways. Batteries, given their contents, require special attention, therefore it's crucial they are easily & safely removed given the sheer number of devices that need to be disposed of.

You can't have the recyclers having to google "how to remove an iPhone/iPhone 3G/iTouch" battery, or having to order special tools to do so.

nostaws
Oct 9, 2008, 04:23 PM
While I personally would prefer a usable replaceable battery.

Having Apple replace the battery may be more environmentally friendly. If Apple replaces every single iPhone battery - they can guarantee that each battery is going to be disposed of, or recycled appropriately.

However, the packaging to send in an iphone, and fossil fuels released into the air during shipping, etc. may negate the recycling advantage.

neilah1
Oct 9, 2008, 08:26 PM
TheReg says: "Mercury, lead and cadmium are by far the most challenging substances in the battery waste stream, the EU says."

AFAIK, Apple has been greening their manufacturing by moving away from these substances in their choice of battery suppliers.

I think by 'readily replaceable' they don't mean user-replaceable, but that the batteries aren't literally glued into place in the product and could be replaced by either the user or by the manufacturer.

Looking around my world, I can think of a couple of products whose batteries can't be pulled, in addition to my typical Apple stuff:

- Plantronics rechargeable bluetooth headset
- disposable pen-cell EMT flashlights (no way to open them)
- My Acura RL's OnStar battery backup system
- My neighbor's Prius (it can come out, but that ain't exactly user replaceable)
- Television warm-up capacitor in my widescreen HD tube tv

That's just the stuff off the top of my head.

Frankly, I suspect the directive would be phased in over time, as there's greater interest in the directive longer-term than in the short term.