UPDATE: The headline and photograph in this article have been updated to correctly state the standard agreed to by the handset makers referenced in the story.
Major cell phone handset makers including Apple, Nokia and Research in Motion (RIM) have agreed to back a European Union initiative to support standard device chargers that will charge any phone through a micro-USB port, according to a Reuters report Monday.
The agreement among 10 companies controlling 90% of the cell phone market in Europe calls for phones compatible with standard charging devices to be available in Europe beginning next year, according to EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, who said, “People will [no longer] have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone.”
At its inception, the agreement applies only to data-enabled smartphones, perhaps the fastest growing segment of the mobile handset market, and will affect only devices produced for use in Europe.
Verheugen hailed the agreement as a boon for consumers as well as the environment and estimated it will help reduce tons of eWaste generated annually by consumers.
Significant unanswered questions remain: what took them so long, and where is the rest of the world in this deal? Do device manufacturers have to be cajoled by regulatory bodies continent by continent to adopt a standard that should have been in place at least a decade ago?