With the introduction of the new iPhone 12, Apple removed the included wall adapter and headphones in the box. The company has argued that with this measure it could achieve its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, including all its operations and those of its global suppliers. Apple has decided to keep the price of its new smartphones in line with last year’s, prompting complaints from many technology aficionados who expected at least a small reduction.
Some competitors such as Xiaomi and OnePlus have taken the opportunity to highlight the inclusion of both accessories in their new products. A clear opportunity to differentiate themselves from the market leader. However, one wonders how long it will take them to follow the trail of the apple, as happened with the audio jack or the notchto mention two examples.
A green gesture consistent with Apple’s history
Halfway through the presentation, Apple’s head of environmental initiatives, Lisa Jackson, announced the withdrawal of both accessories from the iPhone case, following the path of the Apple Watch. Among the arguments he cited was the goal of becoming carbon neutral in all its operations, supply chain and product recycling by 2030.
Jackson put into perspective what these accessories mean to the world, claiming there are over 700 million headsets with Lightning connector in the world, which is about 2/3 of all iPhones in use. An increasingly significant part of the user base uses wireless headphones, including AirPods and Beats.
This decision is not an act of opportunism by Apple; it has been pushing for many years towards a lesser impact on the environment
At the same time, there are 2 billion power adapters made by Apple, with “billions” more from other brands. This includes, of course, traditional USB-A connections (the most numerous) and the latest USB-C connections. In addition to their disposal, Apple can put 70% more iPhone boxes on the same pallet. Overall, Apple achieves a reduction of 2 million tons of CO2 per year.
It’s certainly good news for the environment. And it’s a move consistent with Apple’s plans in recent years, which seeks to make its activity more sustainable. The company cannot therefore be accused of opportunism.
Beyond the savings of a handful of dollars
Although the cynicism that surrounds almost every analysis of Apple in the technological environment argues that eliminating the adapter and headset is due solely and exclusively to money, the truth is that we are talking about a handful of dollars for each iPhone. Calculating the pure cost of the iPhone components is a tremendously complex exercise. IHS in 2017 already noted that the box, Lightning cable, Lightning headphones, manual, and power adapter cost about $12.
Let’s say both the adapter and the headset are about $5 per iPhone. If we multiply this figure by the 200 million iPhones sold by Apple each year, we get a valid figure, we are talking about just of $1 billion a year. For a company that had a turnover of 260 billion in fiscal year 2019, that’s 0.38%. Cost savings do not seem to be one of the main reasons. It is not even capable of offsetting the estimated high cost of 5G technology on the iPhone 12 (between $75 and $120 per unit).
The cost savings are negligible for a company of Apple’s scale. Here other reasons have weighed in, such as the ecology and simplification of its operations
Giving Apple the green reason to remove both accessories and discarding the mobile economic, there are other reasons that are probably at the same level. One of them is simplicity. The iPhone supply chain consists of hundreds of different parts. Eliminating a couple of them, of which you know there are hundreds of millions in the world and many end up in the drawer, means ending their redundancy. And lightening the already complex task of the iPhone’s construction.
All this generates a tremendous sense of déjà vu. An episode that we have already experienced in the past and that the competitors use to their advantage, differentiating themselves from the reference in the sector. A short-term gain, which they will undoubtedly end up copying when it no longer poses a risk in the future.
A win-win for the competition
Do you remember when OnePlus laughed at Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack and they ended up doing it too? Well, here comes part two. pic.twitter.com/Zw9eDXOoFJ
– Luis del Barco (@lbarcob) October 14, 2020
The competition has already taken advantage of the situation. OnePlus and Xiaomi have put the adapter and headset in the as part of its value proposition. As Luis del Barco indicates, the same thing happened with the audio jack not so many years ago.
When Apple removed the audio connector from the iPhone in 2016, the press and technology aficionados they were all over him. Companies like Samsung took advantage of the pull to mock the apple in their ads, only to finally succumb to the obvious: that it was a connector millenary that was beginning to get in the way of such small devices.
Apple’s removal of these accessories from the iPhone case will inevitably be imitated by other manufacturers in a few years
Apple wasn’t the first in eliminating this port, just as it has not now pioneered the removal of the adapter and headphones. But it was the company that received all the criticism for doing it on a large scale. And once those voices stopped mattering, other manufacturers followed suit. A tactic that is a win-winYou take advantage of this to differentiate your product in the short term and, when it no longer matters to anyone, you make the change. Zero risk. All benefits.
Something very similar will happen with the redundant accessories in the smartphone box. With more and more users getting closer to wireless sound, with billions of headphones and adapters already in their homes, that his disappearance is the norm is a matter of time.