Apple is Doing Something Great For the Environment (On Its Users Expense)
At the end of yet another impressive iPhone release video, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is seen walking towards the camera. “At Apple”, he says, “We put the user at the center of everything we do”. Well, Tim (may I call you Tim?), I’m not so sure it’s true.
Let me start off by saying I’m an Apple fanboy. I love the company’s story, I love what it represents, I love its products and design. I stuck with Apple through the awful butterfly keyboard years. I spent many thousands of dollars all while being laughed at by my Android using friends. “You’re paying more for less”, they would say. I didn’t care. I still don’t.
And yet, with its release of the iPhone 12 lineup, Apple managed to do something that I found offending as a user, and the thing is that it was done for a good cause.
Apple is going 100% carbon neutral, which is obviously good. In an impressive scene, standing on the giant solar rooftop of Apple park, Lisa Jackson, Vp of environment, policy, and social initiatives has set up the plan. “Customers already have over $700 million lightning headphones”, she said, “2 billion power adapters are out in the world”. The company has decided to ditch these two very basic accessories from the iPhone’s package.
The environmental advantage, Apple claims, would be tremendous. This move would eliminate 2 million metric tons of annual carbon emission, which is equal to 450,000 fewer cars on the road every year.
But while the effect is positive it got me thinking. I currently own an iPhone XS, a phone sold two years ago with a USB to lightning power adapter. I am planning on upgrading to an iPhone 12 pro and would now have to add £19 ($19 in the US) just to be able to charge my phone.
I figure that I’m not alone. Not many users would be upgrading from an iPhone 11 pro. Most iPhone 12 owners would be upgrading from older versions. Many of them would face the same problem. And what about newcomers to the Apple eco-system? They would have to dip further into their pockets as well.
Now I know what some of you might say.
- Aren’t you willing to pay a bit more to help the environment? Well, of course, I’m not trying to be a di*k here. Being innovative and green is, among other things, what makes Apple a company I relate to. But paying hundreds of dollars for a phone seems like a reasonable sum to expect a way to keep it running too.
- You must have a way to charge the phone and listen to music at your house already. Well, I do. I can theoretically charge it with the older, slower, power brick (and lose the advantage of fast charging). If I want to harness the power of USB-C, I could plug it through my MacBook. It’s awkward, and I’ll probably end up buying the power brick instead.
In any case, my phone has WhatsApp on it. An app that lets me send messages and have phone chats for free. Can you imagine Apple saying “well you have that, so let us charge you an extra fee for iMessage as well”? It wouldn’t happen with basic software, why should it happen with basic hardware then?
The AirPods have, in recent years, become a must-have accessory for many iPhone users. Analyst Kevin Rooke claimed it is responsible for a revenue greater than Spotify, Twitter, Snapchat, and Shopify combined. The lack of EarPods in the box would, I presume, move many more to buy the wireless option. One can also imagine that power bricks would now become a more popular accessory in the Apple stores than ever before.
If Apple really wanted to keep the environment safer and make its users feel more welcomed it could have offered the power brick or EarPods for free to those who buy an iPhone 12 and asked for them. They could have even offered them at a discount for iPhone 12 users, splitting the costs of helping planet Earth between the company and its users.
By removing two basic accessories from the packages Apple is not only making many users pay for their environmental move but also is making a profit from it.
Trust me, it’s a lot easier being green when someone else is paying the price.