European Commission demands a single, standard phone charger

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74 Responses to “European Commission demands a single, standard phone charger”

  1. zuzu says:

    The thing is that this is a nice example of how the invisible hand of capitalism is actually behaving like the hand of a sociopath.

    My BlackBerry Bold has a mini-USB port for charging and data. Actually, having a standard USB port for recharging is a primary feature I look for in choosing a mobile phone, ever since 2002 or so.

    (Though it’s amazing to me how neither tech blogs nor phone manufacturers nor telecoms make this a selling point. I’ve usually had to go into the telecom store and physically look at the phone to check for myself. Then again, that’s our responsibility to act as informed consumers and not mindless cattle. “Come on people” / eternal vigilance is what makes free markets work.)

    Though I agree with previous posters about standardizing on 5vDC and 12vDC; I even use a power-inverter in my car that has a USB charging port on it — to charge my BlackBerry (or my iPod).

    I also agree about the “WTF” towards micro-USB (as used in the BlackBerry Curve 8900). Listen up hardware manufacturers: Regular USB-B is fine for 2.5″ hard drive enclosures and similarly sized devices. Phones and cameras are smaller and can make use of mini-USB, but micro-USB is pointless — only fractionally smaller yet physically incompatible with an enormous back catalogue of devices and adapters already in existence, breaking all of the network effect benefits thereof.

    Up next: Complaining about devices lacking support for most Bluetooth profiles, such as the iPhone and G1 lacking A2DP, and BlackBerry lacking file browsing.

  2. urshrew says:

    @ZUZU

    Its funny how you make a completely historically inaccurate statement then link to a wikipedia page which doesn’t support what you said.

    I’m going to try that too:

    All market success are linked to mental fatigue in librarians.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Yep, Verizon wanted an astonishing $70, several times the price of an actual physical charger, for the driver (and other bundled) software to allow a RAZR to be charged via plugging it onto a laptop.

    Thankfully, I discovered when I upgraded my laptop recently that you can now get the driver as a free download of the Motorola developer’s kit.

    More insidiously still, though, is how brand-name chargers would use DRM handshakes to recognize off-label batteries and charge them in a way that reduced their performance and shortened their life dramatically enough to make the brand-name batteries look much better in comparison. Considering the toxic chemicals in batteries, this is an even worse environmental crime.

  4. GregLondon says:

    A bunch of gsm cell phone companies just announced that, hey, the invisible hand of capitalism has told us to standardize on a common, standard charger. (micro USB)

    http://tech.yahoo.com/blogs/null/123296

    We couldn’t do it until today, you see, cause it was just going to cost too much money. But now, with technology advancements made in the last 24 hours, we find that a standard charger makes economic sense now.

    Nothing to do with the political pressure to stop them from cashing in on proprietary chargers, you know. This is purely the invisible hand of capitalism making a subtle correction.

    Thank you, oh wise, all knowing, and benevolent invisible hand. We shall sacrifice a dozen communist virgins to you in gratitude.

  5. Xopher says:

    What’s that? All markets suck ass? And what’s that about metal fatigue in librarians?

    I don’t even KNOW any metal librarians…

  6. zuzu says:

    The fact that it took a law to require phone companies to allow customers to transfer their phone number to other providers.

    Actually that’s directly the result of the universal service mandate and the government giving Ma Bell a monopoly and thus only one company for decades was responsible for assigning telephone numbers. There simply was no mechanism in place for transferring numbers, and it’s been difficult ever since (beginning when Sprint entered the fray).

    If we kept a dual service system, I’m sure that transferring phone numbers would have been a solved problem long before the law you cited was passed.

  7. insert says:

    Hooray supergovernment-mandated production.

  8. 13tales says:

    Well, the iphone IS chargeable via any USB port… it’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

  9. zuzu says:

    c.f. ILEC, telephone numbering plan, NANP, overlays

    due to the original design of the numbering plan and telephone switching network which assumed only a single provider, number allocations had to be made in 10,000-number blocks.

  10. Brainspore says:

    I’m actually a little surprised that electronics manufacturers never got around to adopting a universal standard on their own. They managed to agree on USB, Firewire, bluetooth and other standards without getting bullied into doing so by the government.

  11. RyanH says:

    @ #4
    Eh, while it would be a break from the current iPhone plugs, it is doable. I suspect it would be fairly easy to design a port that is compatible with whatever universal standard comes up and still has additional connections for data transfer.

    I think a bigger problem will be what defines a mobile phone in years to come. As ‘phone’ becomes more of an application on other devices than a standalone feature these rules get blurred. If I get a new netbook and it has a 3G card for mobile internet and I then run VoiP on it, is it now a phone?

    Could you imagine if they had legislated a single laptop power adapter even 5 years ago? My MacBook Pro takes more power than some desktops I have owned. Not owned recently you understand, but still. At the same time, my brother just got a Macbook that runs on half the juice of my monster.

    This legislation would have almost made sense a few years ago when 99% of ‘cellphones’ were a variation of one candybar or flip-phone style or another. Now, I shudder at the thought of trying to power a blackberry or iPhone with the same cord that powers my mom’s Nokia.

  12. GregLondon says:

    Kevin@30: what Motorola does. Use a standard USB port for the charger, but use the data port as well, and exchange a secret handshake with the charger, refusing to charge from anything but the manufacturer’s own charger.

    If you’re talking about the Razr, that’s actually a restriction put in by Verizon, not Motorola. You can hack a Razr to use full USB.

    google “hack Razr USB”. Here’s one hit:

    http://www.wikihow.com/Hack-a-Verizon-RAZR-v3m-Mobile-Phone

    here’s an entire site dedicated to hacking a RAZR phone:

    http://hacktherazr.com/

    I would google for “hack” plus “USB” plus the common model name of your phone and see if there is something for your particular model.

  13. Mark Jaquith says:

    Banks, self-defense, health care… and now wall warts. Next they’ll be only allowing you to charge your phone on certain days, like lawn-watering schedules.

    Having a zillion wall warts is annoying, but this isn’t the solution. If consumers demanded it, they’d standardize. People just don’t care enough — it’s only a minor inconvenience.

  14. Daemon says:

    #8 – “I shudder at the thought of trying to power a blackberry or iPhone with the same cord that powers my mom’s Nokia.”

    Why? The cable doesn’t mean jack, it’s the battery that powers the phone.

  15. dimmer says:

    On the surface, this seems like a good idea — and probably something that could have happened years ago had the mobile phone industry not made a few extras bucks with the one phone: one charger setup. My current Sanyo Katana has an absurd inch long connector for power that can’t be used for anything else. Huh?

    I don’t see any reason why this can’t happen (see prior comment re. USB, FireWire), but of course I won’t be happy until we start using Tesla’s transmission of power without wires become standard.

  16. flytch says:

    anyone who flies R/C models, knows for a fact that a battery is a battery is a battery… one charger will charge them all!!!!!!!!!! the rest is just BS from the manufacturers who want to make profit selling you more then you need…
    any LiPo charger will charge the battery in your computer as well!!! no matter how much amperage it may draw… very simple to make a variable amperage charger. in fact all transformers will very their output depending on the draw… (basically ask for more and you will get it. and ask for less and it will supply less as well… )
    this is exactly the same way a battery charger works that charges your cars battery… nothing new needed! 100 year old technology here…
    Now I’m against big brother stepping in, but, someone has to force the issue…

  17. Anonymous says:

    @ #9
    Consumer convenience is one side of the coin. The other is, what too few consumers are aware or even care about, the amount of waste generated…which was the first reason mentioned in the article.

    A standardized charger would probably mean less revenue for the cellphone manufacturer.

  18. maviscruet says:

    Will it actually reduce any waste at all? I ask because a charger gets bundled with everyphone at the momment – and if that continues then you just end up with lots of copies of the same phone.

    I mean it’s still a good thing – being able to change on other people charger, multible copies for yourself. Just not sure it will achieve the stated aim…..

  19. GregLondon says:

    If we kept a dual service system, I’m sure that transferring phone numbers would have been a solved problem long before the law you cited was passed.

    Yes, zuzu, I iknow, I know, free-market-anarchism is the solution to everything. I think we’ve had that conversation already.

  20. foxtails says:

    I wish we had a universal laptop battery form factor. Then as batteries die and technology improves, finding replacements would be cheap and painless.

  21. GregLondon says:

    I should note that I don’t have a Razr, I have another phone which I’ve fiddled around with to get to work. So, I’m not actually endorsing the accuracy of any of those Razr sites. It’s jsut that I’ve done similar stuff with another phone.

  22. Itsumishi says:

    Of course! I entirely see your point now. Ha!

  23. zuzu says:

    To make the RAZR function as Motorola originally intended rather than as telecoms such a Verizon Wireless (VZW) prefer, you have to “pirate” Motorola’s Product Support Tool (PST) in order to complete the DRM’d handshake ala Trusted Computing with the phone, and then use a specialty hex editor called p2k Seem Editor to modify the appropriate bits on a mobile phone you supposedly “own”.

    Jonathan Zittrain has a point about the future of our tools for thought.

  24. NotMarc says:

    Douglas Adams declared war on what he called “Little Dongly Things” more than ten years ago:

    http://www.douglasadams.com/dna/980707-03-a.html

    On the question why companies insist to make a new charger for every gizmo, he mused: “Well, there’s one possible theory, which is that just as Xerox is really in the business of selling toner cartridges, Sony is really in the little dongly power-supply business.”

  25. zuzu says:

    Yes, zuzu, I iknow, I know, free-market-anarchism is the solution to everything. I think we’ve had that conversation already.

    All “market failures” trace their origins to government failure.

    The thing the ecologically illiterate don’t realize about an ecosystem is that it’s a system. A system! A system maintains a certain fluid stability that can be destroyed by a misstep in just one niche. A system has order, a flowing from point to point. If something dams the flow, order collapses. The untrained miss the collapse until too late. That’s why the highest function of ecology is the understanding of consequences.

    Dune Appendix I

  26. Julian Bond says:

    And yes, everything that can be charged with 5V 0.5A should just have a mini-USB for that, and data transfer where applicable. Same goes for GPS, Cameras, Bluetooth bits, iPods, powered portable speakers. While we’re at it, anything that will run directly off 12V should have a standard connector and come with a car cigarette lighter lead. I’m looking at you, Asus and your eeePCs.

    While we’re at it, can we just get rid of USB-B. If there’s room for USB-B, there’s room for USB-A. Now do we really need Micro-USB? Really?

    And as for you, Apple. Enough with the custom connectors already. What *are* you doing screwing with the mini-jack standard?

  27. coffeemoon says:

    Time for Greenplug to get their four letter into gear before they’re out-regulated!

  28. Matthew Walton says:

    I thought that there was news a few years back that several large manufacturers had indeed decided to converge on mini-USB for charging. It does not, however, appear to have actually happened that way.

    As for every phone coming with a charger, Nokia, recognising that a lot of their customers already owned a Nokia phone and most of their phones have the same charger, have started packing at least some of their range with no charger – if you’ve already got one, you keep it, if you haven’t got one, you buy one alongside the phone. Seems quite sensible to me, and that’s what will have to happen if we converge on one charger interface across brands.

    Unfortunately my pessimism unit says that the EU will manage to muck this up somehow. I think it’s a good idea, and they’ve got the clout to do it, but somewhere along the way they’ll make a mistake in the spec and we’ll all end up cursing them when it takes 10 hours to charge a smartphone because they accidentally gave it the same maximum current rating as a watch battery…

  29. theLadyfingers says:

    NOTMARC,

    Absolutely correct. Have you ever seen what consumer electronics companies charge for a replacement AC adapter for their laptop? It’s astounding. Price gouging for sure. There’s simply no way a low power AC adapter needs to cost over $100.

    Third party universal laptop adapters are available, for what it’s worth. They’re fractionally cheaper than the proprietary ones.

    The worst offenders are Sony and Apple. Cables are half the price of the device due to their proprietary connector scam.

  30. Sangermaine says:

    @5 –

    “If consumers demanded it, they’d standardize.”

    Consumers do demand it. This is something pretty much everyone agrees on. There’s just no reason for the companies to act on the demand, since they know no one is basing their purchasing decisions on this. So they can get away with this “minor inconvenience”. This is exactly the solution for this problem; this is precisely the sort of thing the magic invisible hand won’t work out on its own.

  31. Ernunnos says:

    Finally, a good use for government mandate.

    And once you get a standard, you can start building it into wall plates, rather than having a little DC/DC converter for every device. I want a built-in transformer with a 5V USB and a 12V SAE plug on every outlet in the house.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Sang @20: “Demand”, in this case, _means_ “base purchasing decisions on”.

    I bought a Motorola Razr over the equivalent Samsung because the Motorola would charge on USB from my laptop (and it does). Ditto their little bluetooth ear thingy. One less crappy cable to carry around when working. Ditto my audio player.

    —–sharks

  33. gadfly says:

    ahh, the winds of change. it’s like God is sighing in boredom.

  34. robulus says:

    The Calitomians are waiting for the call!

  35. mkill says:

    What’s the “the consumer doesn’t want it” FUD? *I* am a consumer, *I* want it. The amount of wall transformers I have piled up in my short life is plain ridiculous. And it’s not just cell phones, it’s every single little electronic device out there. It’s about time the EU does something about it!

    They don’t have to reduce all adapters down to 1. But they need to set two standard connectors, one 5V DC and one 12V DC.

    Every company that wants non-standard connectors (think Apple Magsafe and the iPod connector) needs to
    - Supply complete, open specifications
    - Allow royalty-free use by other companies
    - Register the connector with DIN or a similar agency
    - Justify the necessity of yet another connector standard. The main justification is functionality not included in the standard connectors, such as data transfer (again over open, fully disclosed protocols) or the magnetic safety feature. Water proof would be another special feature I can think of.

    All devices that don’t have the standard 5V or 12V or a registered nonstandard connector with open specs should be banned from sale in Europe. Ideally, Japan and the US should follow suit with similar requirements.

    In addition, electronics companies should be forced to sell their devices without a wall transformer as an option, or allow the customer to get a refund for an unnecessary wall transformer right in the store.

    Problem solved.
    Case closed.

  36. Anonymous says:

    get a powermonkey https://powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/powermonkey/

    Powers every portable device I own and and more besides. The only charger I use now.

  37. Itsumishi says:

    All “market failures” trace their origins to government failure.

    You mean Government failures such as not having enough regulation? (Yes this is a type of Government failure, it goes both ways, too much regulation and not enough).

    Kind of like, I dunno… not regulating that all phone chargers should be the same? That kind of Government failure?

    Consumers want this. They have for years, but there is no way for individual consumers to demand a universal charger for all phones. There is however a way for millions of consumers to demand this and that is called Government regulation.

  38. BritSwedeGuy says:

    This should cut off a huge revenue stream for Sony who seem determined to produce as many different types of adaptor as possible!

  39. dewexdewex says:

    And you can bet that whatever solution is agreed/enforced, the connector will not be symmetrical, so blind folks will still have to piss about orienting it to plug it in.

    Ha!

  40. Mark Levitt says:

    The thing is, the connector that does into the device doesn’t have to be standardised.

    Apple’s iPod and iPhone chargers plug in and have a USB socket. The other end can be whatever it wants, but if every device used USB at the “power end” then there would only need to be one kind of power adapter and you could use it for everything.

  41. GregLondon says:

    Consumers want this. They have for years, but there is no way for individual consumers to demand a universal charger for all phones. There is however a way for millions of consumers to demand this and that is called Government regulation.

    No. no. no. You don’t understand. If everyone wants it and they use the government to get it, that would be unfair to the market.

    But if everyone wants it, and they can somehow spontaneously create emergence and everyone not buy a cellphone unless it has a standard charger, then it’s OK.

    We just can’t organize ourselves to make it happen other than organized boycotts. Yeah, an entire society based on absolutely zero restrictions other than consumer boycotts. Oh boy, I can hardly wait.

    Of course, the ineffectiveness that many boycotts suffer now is merely an outcome of the fact taht we don’t have a pure free-market anarchism going on. Once we’re totally free and totally anarchistic, boycotts will truly inherit the power they are due.

  42. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Mr. London, you and Mr. Zuzu could both be right.

    “The invisible hand of the marketplace” cannot possibly work unless purchasers are entirely informed of the merits of products available for purchase. This is a fundamental truth of the marketplace. If one has to have specialized knowledge to know that a common charger is achievable and available, such a charger may as well not exist.

    Prevent people from finding out that your product is inferior, and you can drive a superior product out of the market. If “invisible army boots” are allowed to trample the “invisible hand”, an unregulated marketplace obviously cannot work. One could argue that all marketplaces must evolve towards unfairness, due to human nature and the corrupting effects of power.

    Perhaps the real argument is, “are humans capable of sustaining a truly free and fair marketplace”?

  43. Anonymous says:

    @31 & 40:

    From the information available to me as a consumer, China has yet to turn this idea into law, isn’t enforcing the law, or companies are ignoring the regulations. Regardless of where the issue lies, as of today, Nokia, Moto, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Lenovo, Huawei, etc. all have their own proprietary connections.

  44. abitskitzo says:

    Would a possible solution not be to spur on the development of wireless charging (as with Palm Pre’s pebble, or whatever it’s called).
    I’m guessing this would also save costs all round, and whatever weight/size gain a device would incur due to additional electronics (voltage regulator etc) being required to work with a universal charger, would be countered by loosing the DC input altogether.

    Between bluetooth, wifi, GPS, wireless charging etc, i don’t think anyone seems to realise how close we are to having physical-port-less devices very soon. Bring it on I say!

  45. elNico says:

    How dare you EU, threatening ma phone chargin’ freedom!

  46. remmelt says:

    Mark: that would only shift the problem. It would eliminate the extra wall wart but you’d still get a custom proprietary cable with every device. This is probably how we’ll end up though.

    Abits: the problem with wireless charging is that I can’t put the charger in my bag and take it with me. Until everyone has a charger everywhere, this is not a solution. Would be cool, though.

  47. zio_donnie says:

    a good idea. consumers want this. i have a bag full of cables and power adaptors for every single gadget. it sucks. there should be a single cable for charging and transfering data. and it should be standard on both ends not like the ipod that has USB on one end and that crapp apple connector on the other. or like my nokia that uses mini usb for data but will not charge from usb. WTF.

    there is a precedent of goverment imposed standard that was a huge success: the SCART video plug that still goes strong. i know that it was probably not the best technical solution but for 25 years it saved millions of people headaches choosing between composite, svideo or whatever crap sony had in the market during the 80′s and 90′s.

  48. Kevin Kenny says:

    I wonder if the solution to this problem will turn out to be what Motorola does. Use a standard USB port for the charger, but use the data port as well, and exchange a secret handshake with the charger, refusing to charge from anything but the manufacturer’s own charger.

    It’s annoying that I can’t charge my phone from my computer, even though it has a “standard” USB connector. (It’s even more annoying that I can’t download photos from the phone cam, because Verizon wants me to pay air time to do that. So I carry a separate camera.) And it’s especially annoying because my phone charger looks almost exactly like my daughter’s, but neither one of our chargers is authorized to charge the other phone, so we get our cables crossed and both have dead batteries in the morning.

    And where I am, competition is virtually nonexistent. Verizon is the only carrier with decent coverage, and somehow other carriers’ phones don’t get Verizon’s coverage when they roam on Verizon’s network.

  49. Xopher says:

    Any invisible hand come near me be gonna lose some fingers.

  50. millia says:

    Didn’t China do this already?
    At least, they were going to:
    http://technologyexpert.blogspot.com/2007/06/china-to-enforce-universal-cell-phone.html

    The worst was my old treo. Separate charging cable and data cable; a simple 3rd party USB cable did both.

    Trying to figure out what ports/cables work to charge an iPhone is pretty annoying, though.

  51. Anonymous says:

    One charger to rule them all, one charger to find them,
    one charger to bring them all, and in convenience woo them.

  52. pKp says:

    This is a Good Thing.

  53. Teller says:

    Then onto ink cartridges!

  54. urshrew says:

    The Invisible Hand of the Market!
    The Invisible Hand of the Market!
    THE INVISIBLE HAND OF THE MARKET!
    The Invisible Hand of the Market will solve everything!
    The Invisible Hand of the Market will shoot lasers out of its fingers and fix every ruffle.
    I pray to the invisible hand of the market!
    Amen.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure I want my phone to go straight to a thin wire, 5V USB standard.

    What happens when me and my battery wants to charge something quickly? Is there an option for something to support the fast charge market?

  56. saragorn says:

    @2

    This is why I read the comments. For the little gems like this.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Forget mini-USB, I want to know what happened to the round coaxial power plugs – no tiny pins to get bent, no worrying about whether the connector was right side up or perfectly aligned….

    Companies that have gotten on the mini-USB bandwagon seem to be moving to one port phones, also using mini-USB for headsets instead of the already standard 2.5mm mini-jack, which of course means that now you can’t use a headset and charge your phone at the same time.

  58. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Don’t forget air pollution; as soon as we’re totally free and totally anarchistic, we’ll all boycott the products of all companies that are polluting the air and water, so they will stop.

    Because, in the Promised Land, it will be easier and cheaper for companies to stop polluting than to simply prevent people from finding out that they are polluting, or to sell in marketplaces removed from the immediate effects of the pollution, you see!

    Take that, “tragedy of the commons!” You are no match for the anarchistic colossus!

  59. Alex_M says:

    Makes sense, and it’s a reasonable thing to demand.

    Who would ever want a house where all the wall sockets only worked with one brand of appliance?

    This is something that needs to be standardized. If the cell phone companies don’t want regulation, I suggest they get together and decide upon a standard themselves. They’ve had plenty of time.

  60. Tweeker says:

    The invisible hand of the market goes for the kancho whenever there is a sufficiently high barrier to entry.

  61. Tina B says:

    Perhaps a reasonable standard device might be a cord that starts with prongs==box==usb port. Then the part that goes in the phone might be wierdconnect==usb plug. That way the phones could keep their wierd connections, but everything would go usb-to-computer or wall after that. One could replace the wall section any time.

  62. Anonymous says:

    The mini USB is designed to last for 500 ‘insertion/exertion’ cycles.”

    Fail. From your own reference:

    “The newer Micro-USB receptacles are designed to allow up to 10,000 cycles of insertion and removal between the receptacle and plug, compared to 500 for the standard USB and Mini-USB receptacle.”

    This charging standard uses Micro-USB, so it has much better reliability.

    Great idea, great implementation. What else would you expect from government?

  63. Teresa Nielsen Hayden / Community Manager says:

    Good thread.

    Rockstar, we don’t much fancy .sig lines. If you want to link to your firm, put the link in your user profile.

  64. Anonymous says:

    I think this is going to require government intervention. Lock-in is simply too useful to the manufacturers, they aren’t going to voluntarily give it up.

    Computers are different because things are meant to operate with many different brands.

  65. misterfricative says:

    Great idea — disastrous implementation.

    The mini USB is designed to last for 500 ‘insertion/exertion’ cycles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB

    So if you routinely recharge your phone overnight, that means you can expect it to fail in about a year and a half.

    I don’t care what standard is adopted, but FFS make it *robust* — ie something that will last for longer than the damn phone it’s supposed to be charging.

  66. Gilbert Wham says:

    #30: HUH? Motorola do what now? Jesus. I mean, I knew they made crappy phones, but do they have to be jerks about it as well?

  67. Shaddack says:

    Once per blue moon, the gods don’t pay attention and the European Commission comes with an idea that’s not dumb. (Hope they won’t forget to standardize connectors and forbid proprietary identification handshakes.) Now the other shoe has to drop (if they don’t want it to fly): standardization of batteries. (And, if I could dream, force the vendors to publish parts lists. So I the Customer could decide between otherwise identical things by e.g. the type of electrolytic capacitors used (and the associated reliability issues).)

    Doesn’t mean I will forgive them their reliability-impairing lead-free solder RoHS idiocy, though. But that’s a different issue.

    I am entertaining myself with the thought of how to set technical standards. Take developers from a number of companies (NO managers, though), lock them up in an isolated mountain resort without any way to communicate with the outside world, and don’t let them out until they agree on ONE open spec, whatever it is. To make it stylish, they could announce the results every day with black or white smoke.

  68. GregLondon says:

    Found this:

    “China will start to enforce a compulsory universal cell phone charger standard this month (May 2007)”

    http://www.eetimes.com/rss/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=199800238&cid=RSSfeed_eetimes_newsRSS

    Anyone know if they’re still doing it?

    As far as USB goes, it’s speced at 5 volts and half an amp. voltage regulators can raise and lower the voltage and current to whatever your battery needs for charging. I think the current self-destructive type batteries require some intelligence for charging, so a regulator has to be there anyway. Which means the only thing we’re really debating about is whether a phone should use a standard physical connector like USB or some proprietary connector that offers the customer zero advantage and is actually a customer detriment.

    The thing is that this is a nice example of how the invisible hand of capitalism is actually behaving like the hand of a sociopath.

    A cell phone company makes money if they can force you to buy an entirely new set of chargers every time you buy a new phone. You’ll need a charger for at home, another for at work, and another for in your car. Our phone is free with a two year committment, but, you’ll have to spend a hundred bucks on new power connectors.

    Legally requiring standard power connections is probably the only way to remove the incentive.

    Another example of the sociopathic hand of capitalism and cell phones? The fact that it took a law to require phone companies to allow customers to transfer their phone number to other providers. Changing your phone number becomes an exra hassle to deal with, so, people tend to put up with crappy service longer because they don’t want the hassle of telling everyone their new number. Companies weren’t going to make it easy for you to leave them, so companies wouldn’t let you transfer your phone number. Leave them and you had to start over with a new number. The technical capability was always there, but it took an enforcement from the FCC to make them offer it.

    Seriously, anyone thinking that the sociopathic hand of capitalism is going to always give you the best solution with the cheapest approach, the most efficient configuration, and the most personal freedom for you, haven’t been paying attention much.

  69. rockstarwebdevelopment says:

    Finally! It is really annoying to have 3 different charges for 3 different cell phones. It makes a lot of sense and should save people money.

  70. jameshammond says:

    One charger to rule them all, one charger to find them,
    one charger to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

  71. GregLondon says:

    zuzu: All “market failures” trace their origins to government failure.

    This market analysis brought to you by the letter “R” and the number “7″. Remember kids, don’t talk to strangers, look both ways before crossing the street, and all market failures are government failures.

  72. checht says:

    “Many of my devices seem to be converging on a mini-USB…”

    Except that now many folks (such as Moto & RIM) have moved on to micro-USB. Coming next, nano-USB…

  73. Church says:

    Yeah, that’s going to work really well for the iphone’s charger. Or maybe that’s the point?

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