EU, Smartphone Makers Agree on Universal Charging Standard

The European Union (EU) and the world's leading smartphone makers announced on Monday that the leading manufacturers would voluntarily implement a universal charging standard—micro USB—across all their devices. A micro-USB port already appears on numerous phones, as well as other consumer electronics devices (such as cameras and MP3 players). However, by agreeing to a single standard, the companies hope to end the days of consumers needing specific chargers.

The standard will have other benefits as well. Consumers will no longer need to throw away chargers when they upgrade because the same chargers will work across more devices. Also, the change will reduce costs for phone manufacturers. According to the BBC, there are currently more than 30 different chargers available for mobile phones in the EU.

Apple, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, NEC, Research in Motion (RIM), Samsung, and Sony Ericsson have all agreed to back the standard on their phones. The companies together represent over 80 percent of the worldwide market for data-enabled phones, and over 90 percent in the EU. In Europe alone, more than 185 million mobile phones are purchased each year, and there are approximately 400 million mobile phone users.

While the agreement applies only to the EU, each company will likely implement the standard across all of its devices worldwide to reduce expenses. Each manufacturer promises to switch over to the new charging method by next year. Companies that make proprietary charging/sync ports for their devices (e.g., Apple) will likely do so via separate adapters.

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