that ten top mobile phone manufacturers, including Apple, have agreed to adopt the Micro-USB connector standard for smartphone chargers in the European Union. The shift, planned to begin next year, will allow smartphones from the companies, which control 90% of the market, to use the same charging cables. Apple currently uses a proprietary dock connector compatible with both the iPhone and iPod touch.
The chargers will be usable only for data-enabled phones, which have more capability than just standard calls and SMS texts. Data-enabled phones are expected to account for almost half of all new mobile handset purchases in 2010.
The Commission hopes that as people discard their old handsets, within three to four years all data-enabled phones in Europe will be using standardized chargers.
The plan also calls for new phones to be sold with Micro-USB chargers for a period of time before ultimately selling phones and chargers separately in order to allow customers who already own chargers to continue using their existing ones. While the agreement extends only to European phones, it is expected that the standard will make its way into phones around the world as companies attempt to keep their design and manufacturing costs streamlined.