Apple may have saved north of $6.5 billion within a couple of years with its decision to ship phones without a charger and earphones in the retail package. In 2020, Apple announced that it would no longer ship charging bricks in the retail box, citing the environmental impact of the e-waste generated by these in-box accessories. Apple sold the idea with the logic that many smartphone buyers already have a charger lying around at home.
The move set the ball rolling for an industry-wide shift. Samsung initially made fun of the idea but followed in Apple’s footsteps and began shipping its flagship phones without a charging brick last year. However, not all customers were psyched about the idea of paying separately for a charging brick, especially the expensive high-wattage adapters that are supposed to have fast charging capabilities.
Related: Apple’s No-Charger Policy Hit With Lawsuit By Chinese Students
Irrespective of the backlash, the status quo remains the same. Of course, Apple hasn’t revealed how much money it has saved by no longer shipping iPhones with a charging brick, but analysts made a rough guess that extends into the billions. As per a report from DailyMail that cites an analyst at CCS Insight, Apple has saved roughly $6.5 billion on costs by skipping the charger and earphones from the retail packaging of iPhones. While the decision to no longer offer accessories saved on the net production costs, the slimmer packing allowed by the departure of these accessories also meant Apple saved some money on transportation costs.
Not Really A Straight Road
The report adds that Apple might be saving approximately $25 for each iPhone shipped without accessories in the retail package. Ever since Apple put the policy into motion, it has reportedly shipped 190 million iPhones, which translates to a net saving of approximately $6.5 billion on the cost of accessories. And since Apple sells these accessories separately, the company is said to have pocketed over $29 million. And that doesn’t include the money Apple draws from the sale of AirPods. Per a report from CNN that cited Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, AirPods alone are a $20 billion business, bringing in more revenue than Nvidia and Spotify.
As for the net environmental impact, not all experts agree with Apple’s viewpoint. The company assumes that many buyers have a charger lying around, but those who don’t already have it will buy a new charger. A charger sold separately needs its own packaging and contributes to carbon emission, starting from its production and all the way down to shipping. Apple says it can ship 70 more pallets in a shipping package now that the retail box of each iPhone is smaller. But sending more iPhone boxes doesn’t actually mean shipping 70 percent more iPhones to each target seller or market.
It is more of a demand and supply equilibrium instead of just doing it because it’s possible. So, for example, Apple continues to ship its gadgets with proprietary Lightning cables and sells them separately as well, instead of adopting the more widely adopted USB-C standard. Apple has also created a divergent path for wireless charging with its MagSafe system instead of using the Qi standard that almost every other smartphone maker has embraced. And yes, Apple separately sells MagSafe accessories and has also licensed it to brands like Belkin to sell their MagSafe accessories.