Yesterday's announcement from mobile phone trade group GSMA brought relief to irritated consumers: beginning in 2012, cell phones will use a universal charger in the form of a micro-USB cord. This means no more asking around the office for an [insert brand name here] charger when your phone dies, or throwing out old chargers each time you switch phone manufacturers. The chargers will also become more energy-efficient, resulting in a 50 percent reduction in consumption of standby, or vampire, power. Cell phone chargers use the most energy during their lifespan while they're not charging anything at all, because people frequently leave them plugged in.
Interestingly, the GSMA has reported that the decision came as a result of environmental concerns:
"The mobile industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling environmental issues and this program is an important step that could lead to huge savings in resources, not to mention convenience for consumers," said Rob Conway, CEO and member of the board of the GSMA. "There is enormous potential in mobile to help people live and work in an eco-friendly way and with the backing of some or the biggest names in the industry, this initiative will lead the way."
The group estimates that the move will result in the elimination of up to 50 percent of all chargers produced, which means you'll see way fewer chargers in landfills. Phone manufacturers on board already include AT&T, KTF, LG, mobilkom austria, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone. iPhone users are out of luck - as my colleague David LaGesse has pointed out, Apple will still manufacture a distinct charger.