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Universal mobile phone chargers head for Europe in early 2011

Dec 30, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Fourteen tech firms, including Apple, Motorola, Nokia, RIM, and Samsung, have made good on a promise to collaborate on a universal phone charger, now headed to Europe in early 2011. The universal chargers are touted as reducing environmental waste, shipping weight, and price while making the “lost charger” nightmare a distant memory.

The European Commission (EC) 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 the result of a June 2009 agreement made by 14 leading mobile phone makers — Apple, Emblaze Mobile, Huawei Technologies, LGE, Motorola Mobility, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel, Texas Instruments, and Atmel.

Following the agreement, the EC issued a mandate to the CEN-CENELEC and ETSI, requesting the development of European standards for the chargers. The two European standardization groups have since complied.

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 to ship more on fewer trucks — good, again, for the environment, as well as for the manufacturers.

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 in the long-term it should be offset by the savings they're able to achieve. This will happen through "leaner manufacturing and simpler logistics," Neil Mawston with Strategy Analytics told eWEEK at the time of the 2009 agreement.

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. According to the agreement (officially called a Memorandum of Understanding, or MoU), most phones will soon meet this description.

The precise 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 year 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.

Stated 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."

Michelle Maisto is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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