RealTime IT News

Apple, RIM, Agree With EU on Charging Standard

The European Union has found a way to address the problem of incompatible phone chargers and avoid a more heavy-handed legislative solution that the tech industry might not be keen to adopt. Today the EU, through its executive branch the European Commission, announced key industry players have agreed to build compatible chargers based on the Micro-USB connector.

The companies issued a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to the EU's executive branch, the European Commission, on their promise. The agreement includes new EU standards it said will ensure continued safe charger use will be developed to facilitate the implementation of the MoU. The first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market by next year.

"I am very pleased that industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers," Günter Verheugen, the EU VP responsible for enterprise and industrial policy, in a statement. "They will be able to charge mobile phones anywhere from the new common charger. This also means considerably less electronic waste, because people will no longer have to throw away chargers when buying new phones. I am also very pleased that this solution was found on the basis of self-regulation. As a result, the Commission does not consider it necessary to introduce legislation."

Major mobile players have signed on to the MoU include Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion (RIM), Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

Recognizing the pace of innovation in mobile technology, the EC said "when the time has come, the MoU will adapt to future charging technologies."

Analyst Tim Bajarin said the move should be a welcome development for European consumers as well as U.S. and other travelers to those countries. "Simplifying that process makes sense," Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com

"It's kind of sad that the EU has to lead the way, he said. "It'd be great if we had that kind of agreement over here."

Back in February, the GSMA, a lobbying and support group for the mobile industry worldwide, announced a commitment to support Micro-USB as a universal charging interface for new mobile devices it said it expects to be widely available by 2012.

At the time, GSMA said adoption of a common format for mobile phone charger connections and energy-efficient chargers will result in an estimated 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption, and the potential elimination of up to 51,000 tons of duplicate chargers.