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European Parliament to vote on single smartphone charger law

updated 07:58 am EST, Fri December 20, 2013

Manufacturers could be forced to use one standard charger connection

Smartphone manufacturers will need to decide on a single standard battery charger for mobile devices, according to a provisional European law. The European Parliament has created an outline agreement for a single charger that its members will vote upon in March, which could potentially lead to the law being implemented as early as 2017.

The draft radio equipment rules hope to minimize cost and waste from supplying multiple chargers with differing connections, according to a press release for the agreement between Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Reuters reports that the agreement also introduces tougher market supervision and measures to ensure certain products are registered before being sold to consumers.




It is expected that the European Parliament will agree to the law in March, which will give European Union Member States two years to apply the rules into national law, with manufacturers given an extra year to comply.

This is not the first time European lawmakers have looked at mobile phone chargers. In late 2010, the EU formally established the micro USB charging standard, asking for manufacturers to use a micro USB connection to supply power to a device. The standard was not mandatory, but since that time, a large proportion of devices have elected to use the connection.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    Why does the EU think they can control technology? Especially when they settle on an interface that is too small and prone to failure? I'm glad Apple went to the Lightning connector because the 30-pin connector was prone to failure just like a micro-USB connector. The accumulation of lint in my old iPhone4's connector caused it to fail. The Lightning connector can have a lint problem as well but it is much easier to clean. A micro-USB connector can be difficult to insert (which way is up??) and any lint inside the plug renders it useless. It's time for the EU to step back and let technology take its course instead of forcing manufacturers to use a crummy connector that won't last the test of time.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by prl99View Post

    Why does the EU think they can control technology?



    Because virtually any market places some sort of regulations on products that may be sold there.

    The question of course being, will they force standardization on a specific plug format that will be a decade old by the time it is standardized upon, and thus useful for very little EXCEPT charging in the long run?
    So they get everybody to use this micro-USB connector, forcing all manufacturers to add an extra port to every single future device, regardless of whether a great idea came along that obsoleted it a year before it was implemented into law...

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 07-16-04

    Speaking as an EU citizen. Stop wasting time and money with this crap.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    "Speaking as an EU citizen. Stop wasting time and money with this crap."

    Thank you. I totally agree.

  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-07-07

    How much actual waste is created by getting a new cable for your phone? Yes, it's a pain to switch when every model of phone was different, but to expect one type of connection to never change is pretty unrealistic. As tech advances, so will the ability for creating a better connector. And by 2017, I'd hope that wireless charging is standard in phones. Why does there need to be a connection at all?

  1. Hillbilly Geek

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-22-06

    Because government should be in the electronic accessories business.

  1. Leatherropes

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-02-11

    Government overreach, yet again.

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    Has anyone there noticed that the marketplace is working it out fine on it's own. There's a tradeoff between compatibility and innovativeness going on but it is settling itself. Although not perfect for consumers it is better than having that flexibility stifled. Consumerism (consumers vote with their dollars) isn't perfect but it's the best we'll have. EU gov is arrogant and only learns its lessons when they are extremely painful.

  1. qazwart

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-10-01

    I'm confused. Didn't the EU already decide on the micro USB charger for phones? Or, was that only for non-smart phones? Don't most of them use the micro USB anyway?

    By the way, I did like the EU getting involved with phone chargers. Instead of each phone needing a special charger, I could use one for various types. I could use the same one if either my wife's phone or mine needed charging. If I needed a car charger or another cord, I could buy it from Amazon or Best Buy, and didn't worry that I wouldn't even find one at the phone store because that charger was for last year's model.

    The expense to the manufacturers was minimal, and it had a big impact on how consumers use their phones.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    The previous manufacturers' agreement was voluntary.

    Originally Posted by JackWebbView Post

    Has anyone there noticed that the marketplace is working it out fine on it's own. There's a tradeoff between compatibility and innovativeness going on but it is settling itself. Although not perfect for consumers it is better than having that flexibility stifled. Consumerism (consumers vote with their dollars) isn't perfect but it's the best we'll have. EU gov is arrogant and only learns its lessons when they are extremely painful.



    You have no basis for that claim.

    Once they have achieved certain market success, cellphone manufacturers have ZERO incentive to make their accessories compatible with others' products — keeping them distinct is a method of customer lock-in.

    This has only really changed in the past few years — not coincidentally, the EU recommended manufacturers agree on a power supply standard in 2010.

    It might not have happened AT ALL, had not the EU put pressure on the manufacturers.

  1. prl99

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 03-24-09

    There already are tons of chargers with a standard USB jack ready for specialized cables. This is the proper way to do it. That way, if your cable breaks you don't have to buy a whole charger/cable replacement. I am also worried about all those junk chargers causing iPhones to catch fire. I'm sure the EU will only allow properly certified chargers to be sold and will cover the damages if they fail. /s

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    All electronics products have required the CE logo for decades.

    While that doesn't entirely remove the threat of fakes, there is a certain accountability and an assumption of safety.

  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-31-07

    I don't think any government is controlling the compatibility of e-cig accessories and yet manufacturers have found it advantageous to standardize on the interchangeable parts that consumers have chosen to be the winners. So Although you can claim that the EU made this happen, you can't know what actually would have happened. If you study the history of the marketplace you'll see that it works quite well without the government coming in. No one has marketplace dominance indefinitely without government protection. Manufacturers are forced by consumers to change must faster than any government could keep up with or any small group of people could begin to understand. Study the economics of the U.S.S.R. from their own economists at the end of the U.S.S.R.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    It took twenty years of total connector salad, and suddenly everybody agrees on micro-USB, and that coincides with an EU recommendation.

    Might just be a coincidence, of course.

    Or it might have happened due to rumblings that such legislation could be coming if the manufacturers didn't work it out themselves. These kinds of statements, parliamentary debates never happen overnight, or in a vacuum. Parliamentarians had been talking informally to industry people for ages before it happened.

    Either way.

  1. reader50

    Administrator

    Joined: 06-01-00

    I wish they'd standardize cordless tool battery packs. A couple configs for each major voltage, so packs are interchangeable. At the moment, even within brands, they often redesign the packs every few years. Vendor lock-in, and packs cost a lot more than USB chargers.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    While the idea of a universal charger standard is a noble goal (it would, for example, allow iPhone and Android users to be able to use the same charger), Apple will likely take this one to court if a simple adapter isn't good enough to meet the new requirements. There's no legal reason why Apple should have to dumb-down their equipment and connectors to a standard better used for "dumb" charging.

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-28-05

    The simple, market-driven solution:
    http://www.monoprice.com/Category?c_id=102
    Cheap, decent-quality cables.

    No need to pay bureaucrats millions to talk out their asses for a few months and the courts millions more to have it out companies who've invested a lot of time and money developing their own standards.

    Sounds like the pols just want to have a pissing match and waste a lot of the private sector's money.

  1. pottymouth

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-19-03

    Fine. Call micro USB the standard. Every device mfr can then stick with whichever connector they prefer and include some crappy little adapter for micro USB (charging only).

  1. ghporter

    Administrator

    Joined: 04-25-01

    Don't most already do that (in Europe, anyway)?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No.

    For some reason, there's this rumor that Apple includes a micro-USB adapter. They do not. Nor does anybody else, to my knowledge. They just have a micro-USB port to begin with.

  1. ghporter

    Administrator

    Joined: 04-25-01

    Ah, I was probably just remembering earlier discussions about the subject.

    So if everybody already uses micro-USB, is the EU Parliament discussing mandating a specific charger device, or mandatory specs for chargers?

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