See that adapter in the picture above? It’s an Apple 30 Pin Micro USB Adapter. And it might just prove that China is more important to Apple than Europe. For the last few years, the European Union has been trying to (and recently succeeded in) push through a well intentioned but stupidly compromised law that would require all handset makers to end proprietary sync-and-charge cables and agree upon Micro USB as a universal standard. It was a nice idea: forget your iPhone cable and need to sync, and your buddy can lend you a spare micro USB and everything’s hunky dory. But unfortunately, the EU finally said that head adapters to micro USB cables were okay, and the end result is that all Apple devices still need a 30-Pin Dock Connector… but they’ll sell you this adapter if you want to perversely do it through Micro USB. As far as I know, in the EU, iPhones still don’t pack with the Micro USB adapter, despite the legislation. But there is one country where Apple’s bundling the adapter for free: China. Apple’s throwing one into every iPhone 4S box. Weird. Both the EU and China have mandated that all phones applying for a license in the territory be able to charge through Micro USB, but while in Europe, Apple sells the Micro USB adapter separately; the Chinese get it free. Either the Chinese are less wishy-washy about enforcing their regulations, or the country with over a billion people is just too huge for Apple to risk losing.
About the authorJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.