New smartphone launches compatibility furore

Apple iPhone 5.png

The Apple iPhone 5, launched in shops today (21 September) in some European countries, has come under fire from consumer groups for its new connecter, which renders old devices obsolete.

ANEC, a Brussels-based European consumer standardisation group, criticised the smartphone in a statement yesterday, saying it was "dismayed that Apple seems ready to exploit its loyal fans by expecting them to pay for the fixes necessary to make Lightning [the new connecter] compatible with all the existing devices using the 30-pin dock connecter."

All Apple devices had used the so-called 30-pin dock connecter since the iPod MP3 player was launched in 2003. All devices, such as dock chargers and hi-fis, designed to be compatible with previous Apple products, will become unusable with Lightning.

Apple promises that it will offer consumers accessories to connect the iPhone to those devices, but these will come at a price. EURACTIV understands an adapter will cost some 19.

ANEC said that because the iPhone 5 does not make use of the so-called 'micro-USB' connector used by other smartphones, Apple should offer this adapter free-of-charge.

The consumer group's secretary-general, Stephen Russell, expressed his disappointment with the move since Apple had "established itself as the cultural icon of the 21st century".

Russell said the lack of EU-wide harmonisation of phone chargers had been "wasteful" of environmental resources as well as having "taken advantage of consumers". He called for a universal charger for all mobile devices, including tablets and digital cameras.

In recent months the smartphone market has become volatile due to their extreme profitability, with each company attempting to deal a 'killer blow' to their competitors.

The Verge, a US technology news network owned by Vox media, said a "tremendous number of people will be affected" by the new technology.

The news outlet said a number of companies were "rising to the challenge" to try to come up with devices that can be used with the Lightning connector.