Ten of the world's top mobile phone suppliers have agreed to back an EU-wide standardization of phone chargers, the European Commission said on Monday.
Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments have all signed the agreement. The 10 companies involved control 90 percent of the European market.
The agreement means that European consumers will see phones compatible with standard charging devices available in Europe from next year, said one EU executive. The "standard" will be an entirely new creation, and standardized phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility.
It's estimated that there are 400 million mobile phones in Europe, with 185 million bought each year. It will take about four years for widespread adoption of the new chargers, the commission said.
The chargers will be usable only for data-enabled phones -- "smartphones" -- which are expected to account for almost half of all new mobile handset purchases in 2010.
One industry group, DigitalEurope, said new data-enabled phones will initially come with a standardized charger but after an unspecified time the two items will be sold separately for an unspecified amount.
In other words, what appears to be a boon for consumers might simultanously be a bust.
For now, the chargers will only be compatible with European phones, but it remains to be seen whether other continents are looking to partake in the standardization effort.