New study: EU common charger reform puts large innovation and consumer value at risk

New study: EU common charger reform puts large innovation and consumer value at risk

January 23, 2020

The EU is considering adopting a law to ensure that all phones, tablets, and similar mobile devices use one type of charging cable – a EU common charger. The suggested benefits of such a reform is that it will improve consumer convenience and reduce electronic waste. However, a common charger will at the same time limit the ability and incentive for firms to innovate and improve charging solutions for consumers.

In our recent report for Apple, we provide novel data and insights on how EU consumers value innovation in charging cables and how their demand for chargers will change if a common charger is introduced. Based on a EU consumer survey, the results show that a delay in charger innovation leads to an estimated loss of consumer value of €1.5 billion (NPV over seven years). If the common charger instead completely blocks future innovation, the consumer loss will be nearly 10 times larger.

At the same time, the common charger will lead to only a minor reduction in EU cable demand and environmental benefit. EU consumers surveyed in the project report that they already have approximately one cable per mobile device (including old cables no longer in use). Given consumer usage and preferences that define how much sharing is possible, the scope for reducing the number of charging cables in the EU is therefore limited. In conclusion, the theoretical reduction in cable demand if a common charger is introduced corresponds in practice to a quite limited environmental gain – based on consumer evidence, we estimate that a mandatory common charger would reduce the carbon footprint to a value of €13 million (NPV over seven years).

Learn more about the study
For further information, please contact Bruno Basalico