EU Moves Towards a Universal Phone Charger

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The European Commission has announced a new Memorandum of Understanding that will have major mobile phone makers work together to create a universal mobile phone charger based on micro-USB connectors, with the first compatible mobile handsets slated to hit the EU market in 2010. The move is designed not only to make things easier for consumers—who won’t have to hunt around for chargers particular to a specific mobile phone whenever they need to power up—but also eliminate waste, since consumers won’t have to toss out perfectly good chargers whenever they replace or upgrade a phone. The memorandum of understand also means that the EU won’t have to legislate a universal charging solution…assuming the industry can carry the idea on its own from here.

Companies who have signed the memorandum include major industry players Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Texas Instruments. Although the agreement is voluntary at this point, the companies represent about 90 percent of the current EU mobile phone market.

"I am very pleased that industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers," said EC vice president Günter Verheugen, 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."

The EC hopes the common charger program can be expanded in the future to cover additional electronic devices like cameras, media players, and notebook computers.