14 major smartphone vendors—including Apple—have backed the European Commission’s plans for a common micro-USB charger, finally bringing an end to the mess of proprietary ports. Companies are expected to make the switch beginning in early 2011, and the European Commission hopes to make the specification standard worldwide.
The EU said many Europeans wanted to be able to use chargers for different smartphones and resented the inconvenience incompatible chargers caused.
Also, it said in a statement, eliminating the need to get a new charger when a phone was replaced had environmental benefits as it reduced the need to dispose of an old, but probably fully functional, charger.
The specifications only cover chargers for smartphones because, said the Commission, these are likely to be the most widely used type of phone in Europe within the next two years.
There have been rumors that the iPad 2 has a USB port, and while it’s not a smartphone, it may be the first of Apple’s mobile products to make the switch. Apple is unlikely to have a separate iPhone model for European users, so there is a good chance the next iPhone (regardless of country) will feature a micro-USB port as well.
Due to the many 3rd party accessories that depend on Apple’s current dock connector, the transition to USB-only may take a few years—if ever, but this agreement is a solid start.