The European Commission (EC) announced today that 10 mobile phone manufacturers and chip producers, including Apple, have signed up to an initiative to produce standard mobile phone chargers.
Companies signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will harmonise chargers in Europe on the basis of the micro-USB connector, in order to cut down on electronics manufacturing and waste.
Apple's involvement in the scheme comes as a surprise. When plans for a standard mobile phone charger were announced at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona earlier this year, Apple was noticeably absent from the list revealed by the GSM Association (GSMA), the trade body that represents the mobile phone industry.
However, some companies that were on the initial list, such as 3, Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T and Vodafone, now appear to be absent.
Apart from Apple, the companies that have signed the MoU are LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments.
Handset maker HTC did not sign up to either the GSMA or the EC undertaking.
An Apple spokesman explained that the reason for the discrepancy between the lists is that Apple is not a member of the GSMA, but is a member of Digital Europe, whose members are supporting the MoU.
"As we've said in the past, we are committed to the Apple dock connector, and this initiative will not require us to change it. Today's memorandum gives manufacturers the option to provide an adapter that connects with the universal charger," he said.
It is expected that the first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones will reach the EU market in 2010.
"Consumers will not need to buy a new charger together with every mobile
phone, and they should also benefit from more efficient and cheaper standalone
Consumers will be able to charge their mobile phone from the new common charger, " said the EC report.
The EC also pointed to important environmental benefits in harmonising chargers. Reducing the number of devices sold will cut the associated electronic waste, which currently amounts to thousands of tons. Harmonised chargers are also expected to improve energy efficiency, thus reducing consumption.
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