Apple, Nokia, RIM and 11 others have made good on a promise to collaborate on a universal phone charger, now headed to Europe in early 2011.
The European Commission announced that the
first universal mobile phone chargers should arrive in Europe during the first
months of 2011.
The chargers, which will charge via micro-USB slots
and be interoperable between brands, are result of a June 2009 agreement
by 14 leading mobile phone makers-Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei
Technologies, LGE, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In
Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel, Texas Instruments and Atmel.
the agreement, the EC issued a mandate to the CEN-CENELEC and ETSI-two
European standardization groups-requesting the development of European
standards for the chargers, and two have since complied.
"I am very happy that the European
[standardization bodies] have met our request to develop within a short space
of time the technical standards necessary for a common mobile phone charger
based on the work done by industry," Antonio Tajani, EC vice president for
Industry and Entrepreneurship, said in a Dec. 29 statement. "Now it is time for
industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The
common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste and benefit
businesses. It is a true win-win situation."
The universal chargers will eliminate the need to
throw away perfectly functioning chargers when switching mobile phone
brands-a boon to the environment. Plus, manufacturers will no longer
need to include a
charger with a new phone, enabling them to create smaller packaging and
more on fewer trucks-good, again, for the environment, as well as for
Eliminating chargers from new phone sales should
also drop the price a bit-good again for consumers. And while
manufacturers will feel an "initial pinch," from this, analyst Neil Mawston
with Strategy Analytics told eWEEK at the time of the agreement, in the long-term
it should be offset by the savings they're able to achieve through "leaner
manufacturing and simpler logistics."
Finally, still another plus for consumers-forgetting
one's charger won't need to translate to having a dead phone. Borrowing a
charger will suddenly be much easier.
Not every phone will work with universal
chargers, however-only those that are data enabled, meaning that
they can be plugged into a computer to exchange documents, photos, music, etc.
Which, according to the agreement (officially called a Memorandum of
Understanding, or MoU), is expected to soon be most phones.
What exactly will be the benefit to the environment
has yet to be tallied, though the MoU expects a general reduction in
e-waste-which the United Nations Environment Programme earlier this
estimated to be approximately 40 tons annually.
In a bit of side gossip, Apple was reportedly slow
to come to the table in June, being a company that notoriously likes to do
things its own way.
"Apple usually prefers to use its own proprietary
technology, so it's not a surprise to see them dragging their heels a bit for
an open standard," Mawston again said at the time. Don't be surprised, he
added, to see Apple going for a "hybrid strategy." It could very choose to sell
"its own proprietary charger with a micro-USB adapter."
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.