Apple joins micro-USB charger agreement

June 30, 2009 | 10:13

Tags: #2012 #usb-charger

Companies: #apple #european-commission

The days of having to wrangle with multiple mains chargers for multiple devices may be over, with Apple finally agreeing to join a project to move to the micro-USB standard for data and power.

As reported over on CNet, Apple has finally agreed to join a European Commission project which aims to consolidate the various connectors used within the mobile 'phone market – concentrating initially on the wide range of different power connectors favoured by individual manufacturers.

The company joins existing signers of the agreement including Finnish mobile giant Nokia, BlackBerry creator Research in Motion, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and Motorola. It's not just handset makers who are in agreement with the EC, either: companies including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and NEC, all of whom produce chipsets for mobile 'phones, have also signed up.

The aim of the coalition is to get all mobile handsets equipped with a micro-USB port by 2012, allowing handsets to draw up to 5V at 500mA from a host PC or mains charger. The use of a standardised connector would mean that in-car kits, solar chargers, and emergency power systems purchased for one handset would no longer have to be abandoned should you switch allegiance to a different manufacturer.

Apple has long been a hold out, sticking stubbornly to its Dock Connector system for the charging of the iPhone range. While there are third party adaptors available for the iPhone, they all require a licence from Apple to create – and are useless if you move to a different, non-Apple handset in the future.

Apple – and the rest of the signers – have a while to work out how best to implement the new standard: while the Commission would prefer to see a micro-USB port on all handsets, it wouldn't be too surprising to see certain manufacturers opting to supply a custom micro-USB charging adaptor in order to appease the EC when selling their devices in Europe.

Do you think the move to a harmonised port standard for mobile 'phone chargers is a good idea, or will it mean cramming yet another port on to already packed handsets? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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