With the iPhone 12 series introduction, Apple stopped including chargers and headphones with iPhones. At the time, Apple claimed it was doing so to go carbon neutral by 2030. It’s been two years since, and several manufacturers have jumped the bandwagon of omitting accessories.
However, what’s being killed in the process is consumers’ pockets. Do you think it is just another money-making technique, or it’s indeed making a big impact? Let’s find out!
Why has Apple stopped providing chargers and EarPods with iPhones?
Apple’s explanation for removing the charging brick and EarPods is to save the environment by cutting down its carbon emissions. As the accessories are removed from the box, the box gets slimmer, allowing Apple to ship 70% more boxes on a pallet.
Apple claims, when put together, these changes will cut 2 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually. It is the equivalent of removing around 450,000 cars from the road in a year. And iPhone users already have charging adaptors for their older iPhones anyway.
So, how is any of this wrong? Is there something Apple is not telling us? Well, there might be something!
What is Apple not telling us?
Apple took the saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and put it into action like no other. How? Well, cutting accessories from the box only helped the company get faster to their goals.
1. More accessories sold
Firstly, the older iPhones came with power adaptors, which supported only 5W charging speeds and had a USB-A output. Apple has been providing a USB-C to Lightning adaptor with newer iPhones, rendering the older adaptors useless.
So, users have to buy new adapters from Apple, which increases not only the company’s profits but also carbon emission as there’s extra packaging, transport, etc., of a product that would have already been within the box. Doesn’t it seem like Apple is contradicting itself?
Right now, it certainly looks like Apple is just cutting costs and trying to make more profits. Don’t believe me? Well, Apple made about $6 billion by not providing accessories. In the long run, I hope this move helps make a difference in the environment.
2. Pushing users towards AirPods
There were several TWS Bluetooth earbuds in the market before the inception of AirPods. But, as soon as Apple removed the headphone jack from its iPhones and introduced AirPods, the TWS or Bluetooth Audio wearables market, in general, took off.
AirPods as a business alone made around $240 billion back in December 2021. Looking at these numbers will enlighten you that Apple made substantial money by creating a problem and then selling a solution.
3. Portless iPhone?
iPhone loses the power adaptor from the box as soon as it introduces MagSafe wireless charging and accessories compatible with it. Was it a coincidence? Evidence doesn’t favor the argument. Also, don’t tell me you haven’t heard rumors stating that Apple would soon omit the Lightning port and provide a portless iPhone.
Wireless audio and wireless charging are already here. The last step would be transferring data at higher speeds, and Apple is also said to be working on the same.
Understanding the pricing pattern of the iPhone
Up until the iPhone 7 series, iPhones were priced around the $700 mark. Later, the iPhone X was Apple’s first smartphone to begin at $999, and ever since, the company has maintained the $999 price point for all its flagship models.
Does it seem like I’m portraying the Cupertino tech giant in a good light? Not entirely, but hear me out. Apple has maintained the $999 price point even though prices for components have been on the rise not only due to inflation, but the tech industry, in general, has been facing issues like chip shortage, and well, oh well, all of us have been through the pandemic together so that’s another aspect we can’t ignore.
Does removing accessories help Apple maintain the $1000 price point?
Let me begin with an example: The costliest single hardware component with the iPhone 11 Pro was its cameras costing around $70. However, with the iPhone 12 Pro, the costliest component was the 5G modem, costing around $90. And that is when accessories disappeared from the box. Another co-incident?
Also, no, I am not ignoring the fact that Apple spends most of its money on Research and Development, and since the iPhone X, iPhones have had a similar design with a few minor tweaks here and there. So, that is another reason Apple has been able to maintain the $999 price point.
Who is affected the most by the removal of accessories?
The $999 price tag for iPhone 13 Pro, while being expensive, is still affordable in countries like the USA, UK, Canada, etc. At the same time, in countries like India, Turkey, and Brazil, you’d have to pay $1500 to $1800 for the same iPhone 13 Pro. Yes, the price is factored in for numerous reasons.
While the iPhone is not an essential commodity to survive, consumers who spend almost double the amount on these devices have to go out and spend more on accessories. Also, these countries are emerging markets for Apple, and this move certainly disincentivizes consumers. The accessories are also grossly overpriced in these countries.
Why do other companies follow Apple?
Apple is a 3 trillion-dollar company and while achieving this feat is no piece of cake, it reached this stage as it’s aware of its value in the market and the prestige that comes with owning an iPhone. Not everyone considers the iPhone a means to an end. The never-ending blue bubble vs. green bubble is a great example of this.
Everyone criticizes Apple for omitting the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, and rightly so; it led to TWS becoming mainstream. Not that it is a bad thing, because TWS make taking calls and listening to audio convenient, but it adds costs. However, Apple wasn’t the first manufacturer to omit the headphone jack. OPPO did it long back in 2012 with its OPPO Finder.
It didn’t pan out as the company created a problem but didn’t have the proper infrastructure ready to solve it at the time. The same cannot be said for when Apple omitted the headphone jack. It created a problem and sold a solution, i.e., the AirPods.
Has this step had a positive impact on the environment?
Apple revealed it saved 861,000 metric tons of copper, tin, and zinc ore due to its move of not including chargers and EarPods in the box in its Environmental Progress Report. And the report also mentions how thinner packaging allows 70% more iPhone boxes to be shipped on a pallet.
But what if you’re buying an iPhone for the first time or even upgrading from an older iPhone? You will need to get a new power adaptor from Apple or any third-party company just to charge your iPhones. This results in more carbon emissions both in terms of packaging and transportation.
What should Apple have done?
In my opinion, Apple could give users a choice if they wanted a charger or not with their purchase, just like Xiaomi did with their Mi 11. If Apple actually cared about the environment, it could’ve added incentives to purchasing just the iPhone if you already have a power brick.
What are your thoughts on Apple not providing basic accessories in the box, and how other smartphone manufacturers are catching up on this trend? Share in the comments below. At this rate, no accessories in phone boxes don’t seem too far away!