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.