Do you live in Europe and are you tired from having to deal with several different chargers for your phone, camera, and tablet? Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) hear you loud and clear. On Thursday, they voted in favor of a regulation to force manufacturers to use only one type of charger.
The potential law wants to institute a universal charger, not only for smartphones, but for tablets, cameras, music players, and other mobile products. For MEP Barbara Weiler, this comes as a welcome relief. “The current incompatibility of chargers is a nightmare and a real inconvenience for consumers,” said Weiler. “This new directive ends this nightmare and is also good news for the environment as it will result in a reduction of electronic waste.”
The next stop for the potential law is Europe’s council of ministers, which must give final approval before it can be implemented. Even so, given their informal approval of the regulation, it is expected to get just that. If that happens, European member states must turn the regulation into national laws by 2016, with manufacturers having another 12 months to switch to the new design.
The most obvious choice would be to use Micro USB, which the large majority of mobile devices already use. This could cause headaches for Apple and other companies that issue proprietary connectors for their mobile products. While the potential law would benefit consumers, Apple would have to deal with something it wants to avoid: easier switching between different platforms.
Even though Apple was one of the original signees of the original agreement between Europe and manufacturers to make the chargers, it currently employs its Lightning connector across all of its mobile products. Whether Apple will replace Lightning with the universal charger or just offer it as a second option is up in the air.
Also up in the air is whether other markets, such as the United States, will employ similar laws. Our hunch is that everyone will be happier with one charging standard.