When I saw the GSM Association and a bevy of big partners were working on a universal phone charger I was giddy. I have drawer full of chargers and always have at least two in my backpack.
Just think about it. One charger for every phone. A universal charger is convenient and even saves the Earth a bit (Techmeme). What's not to love? Try the deadline this newfangled charger. This universal charger--based on the Micro USB standard--won't hit the market until 2012--or two phones from now in the typical two-year upgrade cycle (I upgraded my phone last year).
Wake me up two smartphones from now.
In a statement the GSM Association calls 2012 an "ambitious target:"
The group has set an ambitious target that by 2012 a universal charging solution (UCS) will be widely available in the market worldwide and will use Micro-USB as the common universal charging interface. The group agreed that by the 1st January 2012, the majority of all new mobile phone models available will support a universal charging connector and the majority of chargers shipped will meet the high efficiency targets set out by the OMTP (Open Mobile Terminal Platform), the industry body who developed the technical requirements behind UCS.
Is that target really all that ambitious? Why not aim for the end of 2010--it's not like the mobile industry doesn't replace handsets at a rapid clip. And the BlackBerry Storm already has a micro-USB connection--not that it works on any other BlackBerry.
ZDNet UK noted that the GSM Association's timeline is actually progress. The GSM Association took a year and a half just to figure out when to introduce the universal charger concept:
Asked why it took a year-and-a-half for the mobile industry to commit to a timescale for introduction, GSMA chief architect Ian Pannell said work was done during that time to toughen the interface specification up for regular mobile-phone use.
"A number of elements [of the revised specification] were only recently completed, such as building more safety and robustness into it for charging," Pannell told ZDNet UK. He explained that Micro-USB was originally designed more for connectivity purposes than for charging.
While two or three versions of Micro-USB exist, the participants of the GSMA initiative will hold to just one, "bog-standard" version, Pannell said.
As for those participants, the GSM Association features heavy-hitters such as 3 Group, AT&T, KTF, LG, mobilkom austria, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone. That covers a lot of folks, but it would be good if Research in Motion and Apple tagged along too.