Interventionist Europe strikes again

Well, it seems that Europe has decided to impose us a standard phone charger. This is a move to reduce the number of phone chargers european citizens throw away every year. 

But wait - is this really a good move? Isn't it something that would be best answered by the law of the market? I mean, the article says there are about 185 millions new phones purchased every year. Every new phone comes with a new phone charger. Add to this all the ones that are lost, you have probably a market of about 200 millions phone chargers a year (just in Europe). At about 10/15€ each, well, you have quite a significant market.

 So: it is assumed that people do not need a new charger every time they buy a new cell phone, and that standardizing phone chargers will help the world get greener and the consumer spend less money. But effectively, Europe is killing a market that is generating a lot of growth and wealth. In other words - by making people consume less, the law intends to improve people's lives.


Obviously this is a first step toward socialism in the electric plugs market. By pushing a standard by law, Europe is clearly over-intervening, stifling english company's innovation, killing the business model of many who working in the phone chargers/adapters business, etc... Are these companies going to get any compensation for the loss of their market? Is this standard not going to evolve - at the pace technologies have been moving forward, this standard will probaly be obsolete in two or three years anyway?

But then - this also sets a significant precedent. What would happen if Europe decided to push a standard for printer cartridges? At the moment, when you buy a cheap ink-jet printer, you have to buy cartridges from the same company. By preventing the users from using lower-quality, cheaper generic cartridges, not only does the printer company cares about your printer, it also generates a huge market, making the consumer spend more - again, creating growth, and wealth. Same story for the laptop adapters. So, what's next? Is Europe going to force the UK to use the euro? To drive on the right? Gee, to use the *so* annoying metric system?

Europe, this is never gonna happen. In the UK, and in the US, people believe in Freedom, competition, growth and laws for a free market. Nice try - thanks, but no thanks.

English electric plug



PS: Hum, as it seems it wasn't clear enough, I was being cynical.  I do support standardization and do not believe the amount of money a family spends is a good way to measure its happiness :)



Are these companies going to get any compensation for the loss of their market?

Yes. In fact, this will be a great money spinner for people who make mobile phones and chargers. Phone companies will no longer include chargers with phones because "you have a working charger already", this will save them 50 pence manufacturing cost (if that) on each phone. For people that want a charger they'll sell one as an accessory for a small fortune, making an enormous profit.

I'll be happy because I can go to the office and borrow anyone's charger, the phone companies will be happy because they'll be providing you with less and charging you more when you want it. Think about the accessories that used to come with iPods, but don't any more, as an example.

Posted by Joseph on June 29, 2009 at 09:40 PM GMT+00:00 #

Joseph: I am not completely sure that will be true... I think from the point the chargers will be standardized, you will never buy a new expesnive Sony charger again. Instead, you'll go for the "Tesco phone charger" for 2£.

It'll be the same for many accessories as long as the connector is standardized. If you have a Sony mobile phone, you'll be able to go for the 60£ Sony headphones, or for the 5£ "good value" chinese-branded one :) In fact, standardization is destroying lock-ins and creating competition.

Posted by Yann on June 30, 2009 at 05:51 AM GMT+00:00 #

You should watch this.

Continuous consumption leads to a dead end. However EU should help this problem without taking away the freedom of those companies. For example they could force them to take the old chargers back and recycle at least 90% of the material.

Posted by Lucian on June 30, 2009 at 01:18 PM GMT+00:00 #

Already seen that video, didn't you have is as a signature for some time? :)

And yeah, that'd make sense, for example "a new charger half price if you bring back the old one" :)

Posted by Yann on June 30, 2009 at 02:56 PM GMT+00:00 #

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