Have you ever swapped out an old iPhone battery for a new one? Probably not, because it’s difficult and frustrating and expensive to do. But that could soon change.
A recent ruling by the European Parliament seeks to impose stricter rules about how the batteries inside devices like phones, tablets, and other mobile electronics are made and disposed of. Bottom line: It would require manufacturers to make batteries removable and replaceable by users.
The ruling must first be approved by the European Council to be made into a formal law. Even then, the ruling will just affect devices sold in the European Union. But these regulations tend to cross the regulatory pond, so to speak. Other rulings, like the EU’s legislation requiring companies to make their devices repairable by consumers, have inspired similar legislation in the US and led to companies like Apple and Samsung implementing their own repair programs. Another EU ruling may soon be responsible for Apple finally selling iPhones with USB-C ports.
This battery ruling, if it indeed goes through, is likely to be a sharp stick in the eye for Apple in particular. The company has a history of making its batteries difficult to replace and has taken flak for hitting users with dubious battery service alerts when trying to repair their own batteries.
The ruling would also require companies to more diligently manage battery waste and use recycled components in the creation of new batteries. Under the new ruling, manufacturers of EV batteries would have to label the cells with their carbon footprint, indicating how many resources were used to create the battery.
Microsoft’s acquisition of the video game giant Activision Blizzard has had a rocky go of it. The deal, which the companies announced in January 2022, has been stymied by regulatory bodies ever since. It overcame a blockage by the UK government earlier this year. But now the US Federal Communications Commission has ramped up its attempt to stop the deal, and the parties have officially entered legal proceedings.
The idea of Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard has antitrust activists worried because of how much of a giant the Diablo and Overwatch developer is in the industry. Microsoft has gobbled up other game companies like ZeniMax (which owns Bethesda, the developer of games like Skyrim and Starfield). Activision Blizzard has its own troubles with harassment by executives and crunch-time workloads, resulting in high-profile executive shakeups and employees unionizing.
There’s a ticking clock element to the companies’ ambitions, as they aim to close the acquisition before a July 18 deadline that would force them to renegotiate the terms of the deal. The FCC’s preliminary injunction, if successful, will prevent the merger from happening long enough to blow past that deadline.
Shop the ’Tok
TikTok has been experimenting with various shopping features on its platform. The company is currently testing a feature called Trendy Beat, which lets you buy the cool stuff you see in people’s TitkTok videos. Any products enjoying some level of popularity on the platform can be promoted within a special section of the app that lets users shop for them.
If you spend some time on TikTok, you’ll know that all sorts of items can go viral, from mini waffle makers to sandals and beauty accessories. According to TechCrunch, the feature is just being tried out in the UK but may be coming to the US at some point.
Just Take My Money
In the battle for retail supremacy in the US, Amazon and Walmart are vying for the title of biggest business behemoth. These commercial leviathans have duked it out for the past couple of decades, with Amazon gaining the edge with its aggressive online offerings. Then just when it seemed like brick-and-mortar stores—aka Walmart’s core business model—were about to be fully replaced by easy online ordering, the pandemic struck and upended how we shop, both online and in person. While Amazon struggled with increased demand and longer shipping times, Walmart found an opportunity to use its many physical stores to make its products even more readily available than Amazon’s.
This week on WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast, journalist and author Jason Del Rey joins the show to talk about his new book, Winner Sells All: Amazon, Walmart, and the Battle for Our Wallets.