How will the mini USB port affect the iPhone?

by PYB James | Jan 01, 2011

In terms of iPhone insurance, the current debate around mini USB ports is unlikely to have much effect. Whether your iPhone has one type of port or another, won't change the reality that it's a valuable device that is probably better off insured than not.

However, if you are interested in technology, the debate has been and continues to be, a fascinating one.

For at least 50 years (and probably a lot longer) the IT industry has been talking about a truly cable-free world. Unfortunately, although the recent wireless revolution has done a lot to help, most information technology and associated gadgets continue to be plagued by the need to use a plethora of cables for one thing or another.

Some cynics would argue that the problem is, if anything, worse than it has been in the past.  The reason for this has been the huge increase over recent years in the numbers of players in the marketplace - many of who seem to have been determined to reinvent the wheel in terms of their particular cable and adapter standards.

The effect of this on consumers has been that familiar sight of cupboards and desk drawers full of obsolete cables and adapters that we are all reluctant to throw away, just in case ’they come in handy’ one day!

This, what some would call shambles, has come to the eye of the powers that be in the European Union. The origin of governmental concern is partly consumer protection in orientation (governments are wondering why European consumers need to have five different chargers if they have five different electronic gadgets) and partly environmental.

The environmental issue arises because some studies have shown that people will have multiple chargers charging their gadgets simultaneously and being left permanently plugged-in, thereby consuming more energy in total.

Some authorities may be inclined to question the environmental case but in a sense that doesn't matter.  The point is that the regulators have got the bit between their teeth and have specified that there will be a standard mini-USB adapter for gadgets sold within Europe. This decision may not sound a particularly big deal and if anything, it may seem like plain common sense.

So will this be an easy adoption for Apple and their iPhone? Unfortunately it may not seem so as Apple has not traditionally used the mini-USB format. It is an issue for them because they are a great believer in standardisation and a ‘one size fits all’ approach in terms of consistency. At the time of writing, there does not appear to be a definitive position statement from Apple other than the fact they will presumably comply with the European standard.

At the moment, most people are predicting that they will adopt a mini USB to Apple standard USB adapter rather than replace their existing approach for the European markets or put in a second USB adapter into their iphone.

So we await the position with interest, even if it doesn't affect our iPhone insurance!

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