Standards, How They Should Be Done

This week at the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress, 17 of the top mobile operators and manufacturers agreed to adopt Micro-USB as the universal charger interface for new mobile phones.

The initiative, says GSMA, centers on having a universal charger interface by 2012. The group further agreed that the majority of chargers shipped at that time will meet the high efficiency targets set out by the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform). The move could reduce the number of chargers built each year by as much as 50% — a whopping half a billion units.

“The mobile industry has a pivotal role to play in tackling environmental issues and this program is an important step that could lead to huge savings in resources, not to mention convenience for consumers,” said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSMA. “There is enormous potential in mobile to help people live and work in an ecofriendly way and with the backing of some or the biggest names in the industry, this initiative will lead the way.”

This is great news for consumers, who will no longer have to ditch their working chargers every time they upgrade phones.

The initial group of companies that have signed on include AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile and Vodafone, among others. There are a couple big exceptions: Apple and RIM, so far, are not playing ball.
Here’s hoping they eventually enter the fold.

But what’s really nice to see is the number of competitors working together in a way that should lower the end-product and usage costs for the consumer while also enhancing the convenience, all while ensuring millions of old chargers won’t be headed to the world’s landfills. That’s what good standards development should do.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow