Silicon Valley’s enemy number one, Margrethe Vestager, has revealed her next target — and it’s bad news for Apple.
The European Union’s competition commissioner is a genuine thorn in the side of US tech giants, patrolling and enforcing antitrust laws with a vigour that last month saw her slap Google with a record $5 billion fine .
Now the dust is settling on the EU’s action against Google for exploiting the dominance of Android, Vestager is casting around for her next tech project. And we got a big clue about what it is this week.
Vestager said her team is about to launch a review of smartphone chargers, as a result of concerns that tech firms have not acted on a promise to standardize charging points.
Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia were among 14 companies to sign a voluntary deal in 2009, agreeing to harmonize chargers for new models of smartphones coming into the market in 2011.
Vestager said progress against this aim had not been good enough. “Given the unsatisfactory progress with this voluntary approach, the Commission will shortly launch an impact assessment study to evaluate costs and benefits of different other options,” she said.
This could spell all sorts of trouble for Apple. Android phones use either USB-C and micro-USB connectors into the handset, and Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is something of an outlier. This may make it an obvious target for Vestager’s investigation.