The first-world problem of needing an iPhone charger with each upgrade is nothing new and has become a cultural reference. However, online complaints don’t appear to translate into purchasing practices as consumers flock to buy the latest Apple gadgets. This shows that to consumers the alternatives are worse. The inconvenience of buying multiple chargers pales in comparison to the benefits of long-term innovation, as shown by consumer behavior.

Apple’s history of changing chargers is well known. While consumers may complain about it on social media, it doesn’t appear to be a big enough problem to shift purchasing behavior. According to polling done in Saudi Arabia, over 80 percent of respondents wouldn’t buy a product without a charger or would only do it in the presence of an incentive, although specific details weren’t given.

This suggests that while switching chargers might be a hassle when they are acquired at the time of device purchase, the hassle is minimized.

Concerns over chargers are more than just talk with this year marking the beginning of the European Union’s requirement that all devices be compatible with USB Type-C chargers. Initial devices will need to be compliant by the end of the year with computers given till 2026 to comply. The U.S. could potentially follow suit with U.S. Senators supporting the same type of regulations.

According to research, nearly 90 percent of European households regularly charge multiple devices at once, meaning multiple cords would still be required even with one charge type. The utility gained from universal chargers is diminished when multiple chords are still needed to simultaneously charge devices. Consumers could make purchasing decisions to minimize the types of chargers needed. However, the diminished hassle could explain why consumers aren’t using market pressure to demand uniformity.

When applied to the U.S. the available research doesn’t provide a clear picture as to how many chargers the average person owns, how many devices are compatible with which types, or how often a lack of a charger is a problem. This largely leaves the debate in the theoretical realm. Fortunately, economic theory does provide some insights.

Assuming that frequently changing chargers is not optimal for consumer welfare, what is the optimal system? Under this assumption, a universal charger for all devices would maximize consumer welfare. But that is ultimately a shortsighted solution.

The current system has different chargers for different devices requiring either the purchase of adaptors, the purchase of multiple chargers, or a combination of both. But what it lacks in uniformity, it more than makes up for in innovation.

The problem with standardization is that in the long term, it becomes difficult to innovate as government regulations specify what type of charger to use.

Upgrading chargers under a universal system would require in-sync upgrades across all manufacturers in response to federal regulations. If the coordination barrier could be overcome, a potentially more difficult barrier would be the lack of incentives to create a better charger. Without a secondary entrant who could subvert regulation and gain enough market share through agreements or use with manufacturers, there would be no competition and no reason to improve the product.

Such perverse incentives are demonstrated in the EU’s mandate with an estimated cost to consumers of €1.5 billion in harm over the seven years after the mandate.

Since a charging mandate is sub-optimal in the long term, and since a maximalist approach to chargers is sub-optional in the short term, the balanced approach is the next best option. Fortunately for consumers, it looks a lot like the current system.

The practical optimal outcome would have firms produce a limited number of chargers that cannot be used universally but have a fair amount of flexibility. Overall, there is some annoyance with switching chargers, but the hassle is minimal compared to unique chargers for each product.

While it is possible to legislate a convenient short-term solution for consumers as it relates to chargers, this would undermine future innovations. The alternative is to rely on market forces; however, imperfect. Fortunately for consumers, this is largely the system that currently exists. If consumers truly want to improve this market, it is up to them to create the consumer pressure that is missing, otherwise the middle ground is the optimal outcome.

Tirzah Duren is the Vice President of Policy and Research at the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit educational and research organization. You can follow her on Twitter @ConsumerPal.