Apple Removes iPhone Accessories for Greater Profitability

image credit: Apple

published by Chand Bellur
October 30, 2020 at 2:33 p.m.

 

  • Apple press releases and marketing materials claim that the absence of a power adapter and EarPods with the iPhone is for environmental reasons.
  • Without headphones or a power adapter, many iPhone owners must purchase these items, which will be shipped separately to retail outlets and customers, negating most of Apple’s environmental benefits.
  • Although previous chargers are compatible with the iPhone, they’re not powerful enough to rapidly charge the device.
  • Many analysts contend the lack of headphones is a strategy to increase AirPods sales.

iPhone 12: First Major Smartphone to Ship Without a Charger

Apple isn’t as innovative as they used to be. Instead of beating competitors to market, the company sheepishly copies Netflix, Spotify, and others with products that are a decade overdue. New ideas from Cupertino seem more about eliminating accessories and features. Apple removed the headphone jack from iPhones. Now they’re pulling both headphones and power adapters from the iPhone bundle.

This “innovative” move allows Apple to ship 70% more iPhone units in the same space. The change seems to save carbon emissions, as transporting and manufacturing “unnecessary” accessories generates greenhouse gasses.

It’s not just the iPhone 12 that ships without a power adapter and headphones. Standard accessories are absent from every iPhone Apple currently sells. The iPhone SE, XR, 11, 12, and 12 Pro do not have power adapters or EarPods in the box.

Without a power adapter, iPhone 12 owners have a decision to make. They can charge their iPhone with their existing charger or buy a new one. Apple’s new 20W charger costs about $20, which is remarkably inexpensive for an Apple accessory. The 63W charger for a MacBook Pro costs about $80.

Rapid charging is only available for those who buy the new 20W adapter. If you use the old 5W adapter, it will take several hours to charge your iPhone. This may prompt many iPhone users to opt for the new charger, generating more negative externalities, as Apple must ship power supplies to retail outlets and customers.

Why Not Create a Compact Power Adapter?

Earphones don’t take up a lot of space, and it’s clear that their omission is more about profits than environmental concerns. Apple power adapters, however, have always proven bulkier than the competition.

Competitors like Samsung and OnePlus offer compact power adapters for their smartphones. In fact, the 65-watt charger shipping with the OnePlus 8T is more compact than Apple’s 63W charger for the MacBook Pro.

Apple’s obsession with thinness doesn’t seem to apply to power adapters. The company could have shipped smaller units by designing a compact power adapter. They make computers that fit on your wrist and wireless earphones that fit in dental floss-sized cases. The company supposedly has the best industrial designers in the world. Surely, they could design a more compact power adapter than competitors if they valued both the environment and consumer relations.

Although it’s challenging to find a company’s true motives, realistically, they’re guided by profitability. Apple’s marketing and public relations may claim this move is environmentally friendly; however, it also drives sales of their new power adapter and AirPods. Apple-owned Beats also released low cost $49 wireless earphones, marketed to new iPhone customers. Apple’s distortion reality field may claim they’re doing this for the environment, but it’s clear the company removes accessories to drive sales.

Dwindling iPhone Sales Force Apple to “Think Different”

The iPhone is no longer a cutting edge, must-have device. Every year, the company releases a new model, with modest, incremental changes. Every new iPhone has a faster processor and some new camera features; however, they’re very much like previous models. Apple still sells the iPhone XR, because it’s not that much different from its latest iPhone 12 model.

Consumers aren’t refreshing their iPhone as much as they used to. There’s no compelling reason to do so. Smartphone cameras are already good enough for most people. A faster processor isn’t necessary for most smartphone tasks — social media and messaging.

Apple must make up for this revenue shortfall. Services such as Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+ haven’t managed to bring in compensatory revenues. A sweetheart deal with Google makes up the bulk of Apple’s service revenues. This arrangement is now in jeopardy, as lawmakers seek to reign in tech monopoly abuses.

This forces Apple to think out of the box, or, more accurately, to think about what’s in the box. By removing headphones and the power adapter, Apple will sell more accessories.

Although many of us already have headphones, latent upgraders may not have a newer set of EarPods with a Lightning connector. Since newer iPhones don’t have headphone jacks, some consumers must buy new headphones. Steered toward Apple and Beats products, the Cupertino tech giant should see a growth in accessory sales due to the change.

If iPhone customers purchase accessories, this negates most environmental benefits. Apple must ship power adapters and AirPods to stores and customers. This could actually generate more carbon emissions than if the company provided accessories in the box. 

Apple refused to estimate iPhone 12 sales, yet it claims smaller iPhone packaging will save two million metric tons of carbon emissions. There are too many unknown variables to make this assumption. How many iPhones will they sell? How many power adapters and AirPods will they sell? These two factors are unknown and are critical to determining carbon emission reductions.

France Forces Apple to Include EarPods

Apple doesn’t have free rein in every nation. France requires that all smartphones ship with headphones. To accommodate French law, Apple is placing its iPhone boxes inside slightly larger boxes containing EarPods.

The law’s spirit ensures that consumers will get a complete and useful experience out of the box. It appears as though Apple is concerned less about consumers and the environment and more about growing accessory revenues.

Apple is Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the practice of using fake environmental conscientiousness to boost profitability. Many environmentalists bristle at the notion of selling carbon offsets, as it allows corporations to pollute with impunity. Virtually every corporation has embraced environmentalism for the sake of its PR value as the world becomes warmer and more polluted.

Removing accessories for the sake of the environment is another act of greenwashing. Apple can’t reliably predict that they’ll prevent two million metric tons of carbon from infiltrating the atmosphere. They refused to issue an estimate of iPhone sales for the next quarter. How can they accurately account for carbon emissions?

Boosting accessory sales seems to be Apple’s motive for nixing iPhone accessories. This comes at a time where manufacturers like OnePlus give users power adapters and a free case. Rumors suggest that Samsung will remove power adapters from its upcoming Galaxy S21 packaging. It would appear Apple’s innovation seems to be more about shortchanging customers rather than providing groundbreaking new technology.

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