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Apple, others agree to micro USB standard in EU

updated 09:30 am EDT, Mon June 29, 2009

Apple Agrees to Micro USB

Several major cellphone makers today agreed to support a European Union push for a universal charger standard. Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, RIM, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have signed a deal with the European Commission that will see micro USB become the default connector for powering cellphones in the continent. Chipset producers like NEC, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have also agreed to the deal.

The initiative appears to support a broader GSM Association effort to settle on a common standard by 2012 and is intended to reduce waste in the phone business. Many companies insist on their own formats, such as HTC's ExtUSB or Sony Ericsson's two-pronged adapters, and consequently force phone buyers to either give away or trash chargers whenever they switch phones.

Apple's agreement to the standard is particularly unusual as the company has regularly insisted on its own Dock Connector and uses this to not only power its iPhone and iPod devices but to control the accessory market. Accessory makers are encouraged to pay a license fee for the Dock to earn a certification logo. It's not known if Apple is simply planning to include a micro USB adapter in Europe or else a possible replacement of its in-house technology with micro USB.

The connector has already been in use on many phones from Nokia and a handful of smaller companies in recent years and is known for providing virtually all the functionality of mini USB in an even slimmer profile. It was introduced in January 2007 and consequently came too late for early iPhones.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Salty

    Professional Poster

    Joined: Jul 2005

    +2

    Smaller?

    Well granted most cell phone companies are smaller than Nokia but that's a really poor way to phrase it.

    To note the new Blackberries are all coming with Micro USB, Motorola's been pushing it on their newer phones. And I imagine there's a few others.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    iPhone

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple use it for the iPhone to just charge but not sync. Don't want all those vendors who pay apple $$$ to make dock connectors to all of a sudden get a free ride.

  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +6

    It's about time!

    A universal cellphone charging standard is LONG overdue.

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jul 2006

    +5

    More than cell phones

    I believe one key reason for adopting the micro USB standard is that, unlike the mini USB connector, it's designed to survive the many hundreds of connect/disconnect cycles in the life of a typical device.

    And it would be great if micro USB itself would get used for more purposes than power, including synching and data transfer. It's absurd how many unique cables, adapters, and system-level drivers I'd need to download data to my still-on-the-market Garmin Vista USB. That's bad, a 2009 product still built to 1990s specs. We need micro USB to be used for more than cell phones.

  1. GaryK

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2009

    0

    Universal charger

    There is a company in the US that has been promoting the idea of a universal charger and it is a smart charger that shuts off when the device is fully charged. They see it a being a recharging center so that all one would need is a cord to plug into the station and the charging station is smart enough know what voltage and current is needed. here is the link to their website: http://www.greenplug.us/

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Jul 2004

    +1

    I forsee a dongle

    I think Apple will include a dongle to which you can attach any microusb charger to with the other end having a dock connector to plug into the bottom of the iPhone. I don't see Apple giving up the dock connector given that it offers not only charging and USB transfer but also control signals, audio and video output. Apple also just released iPhone 3.0 where they demoed an API that allows you to connect third-party devices via the dock connector.

  1. Meovv

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    -1

    Agree

    The dock connection does so much more than being a USB connector. Apple may very will sell cables that have micro USB on one end and a dock connector in the other to perform charging, syncing and (I hope) printing. Future computers (at least netbooks) may come with micro USB built in but I don't think we can expect too much from this standard.

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