15:25 30 June 2009
The mobile phone market is incredibly competitive with each major brand struggling to stamp a memorably individual style on their products, from handsets right up to the free chargers that come in the box.
In a surprise industry move, the world's biggest mobile phone giants have come to an agreement - a one-size charger to fit all future phones.
Normally, the industry is so fast moving that accessories only tend to work on the original phone with which they were bundled, but this new drive is said to benefit both the customer and the environment.
But now 10 companies, including Apple, LG, Nokia and Motorola, have submitted a Memorandum of Understanding to the European Commission pledging to start making phones that can be charged using a single charger. These 10 companies control around 90% of the mobile phone market.
The manufacturers will adopt the Micro USB connector across all of their devices starting from next year.
The European Commission has been pressuring mobile phone makers to reach an agreement on a universal charging standard in an effort to clamp down on the thousands of tons of waste generated each year by the inclusion of unwanted chargers with every new handset.
Had a voluntary agreement not been reached, legislation would've been forced.
Guenter Verheugen, the EU industry commissioner, said: "I am very pleased that industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers. They will be able to charge mobile phones anywhere from the new common charger.
"This also means considerably less electronic waste because people will no longer have to throw away chargers when buying new phones."
The GSMA, the trade organisation that represents the mobile phone industry, has also revealed another positive aspect of the scheme - the new universal chargers will consume half as much energy when on standby as today's charging cables do.
Mitti Storckovius, a senior director at Nokia, stood by the proposal: "By supporting this industry initiative on common charging solutions, and enabling consumers to choose if they need a charger with every new device or can reuse existing ones, we can contribute further in improving the industry's environmental footprint".
The new standard charger will replace the more than 30 different kinds of charger currently in use across Europe.
The commission said that it will work on 'data-enabled' mobiles set to hit the shops in 2010. These are phones that can be plugged into a computer to exchange data files. Most phones, will in theory, be able to charge in about two hours.
Mobile facts by the numbers
The first mobile telephone call was made in 1973
There are 400 million active mobile phones in Europe
Around 90 million handsets are lying around unused in British homes
1,712 phones are replaced every minute
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