@Susan: I think this is a step in the right direction to standardize. While they are at it, why not standardize even further for above 10watt supply? USB 3.0 is capable of handling much more and this will come in handy for Tablets and Laptops.
Reg your question on old chargers, no doubt they have to be reclaimed and recycled. Standardization like this will reduce eWaste.
It's very fashionable to knock the EU here in Europe, but generally I am in favour. There is a lot wrong with the EU, but to me, as a libitarian, free-marketeer, breaking down barriers is a good thing. It increases competition and so reduces prices. However...
Here, the law of unintended consequences kicks in: if Apple were to make special models for Europe with micro-USB connectors, then competition is reduced and prices will rise as sure as night follows day.
I'm all in favor of standardized chargers. I have two cameras and my son's DSI that all use non-standard connectors, which means I have to search all over the house when one of them gets low. It would be nice if I could just use a standard USB charger.
On the other hand, the problem with bureaucratic rules is that they can stifle innovation. What about the soon to come out USB 3.1, which is faster, can handle higher charging current, and is reversable, like Apple's Lightning connector? Will this be illegal in Europe?
I think regulation is both your friend and your enemy. It is also fashionable to knock EU directives here in the UK, assuming that all EU directives are "extra" (rather than homogonising national regulation) and assuming that all regulation is bad.
Some regulation can help to encourage innovation. - it provides a stable environment so that it is worth investing. For example, without radio regulation, it would not be worth investing in a new service, because there would be no guarentee that the necessary bandwidth would always be available to you.
Standardizing on a mechanical USB connector is only step 1. Today, you can connect a Samsung phone into a USB connector, an LGE phone into the same USB connector, or a Nokia phone into the same USB connector. All phones will fit into the charger, but all will charge differently.
This is because the electrical communication between the USB host charger and the USB device is not standardized.
Today, Samsung offers their own propietary communication signals, Qualcomm quickcharge 2.0 is now available with yet another set of communicaiton signals. BC1.2 is also a spec which tries to dictate what the communication signals will look like. USB-PD is also trying to become a standard which allows up to 100W to be negotiated through the USB connector.
EU needs to look beyond just the mechanical connector (which btw they have chosen a horrible one because it is an easy connector to break) and look into standardizing the electrical communication as well.
I believe that the upcoming USB 3.1 standard is looking to target laptops for this. According to Wikipedia this will handle up to 100 watts, making it a prime candidate for a standard power source for medium or lower laptops. That would be a major improvement over the replacement power supplies with their dozen or so replaceable tips.
I guess the problem still remains that we will need to carry individual USB cord to connect from mobile to power device. The only satisfaction can be the little weight reduction in the bag but not that helpful for those who carry more than one mobile or someone who has accidently forgot to carry USB/charger.
This helps those situations as well. Third-party chargers that handle multiple devices are already available here in the US, and even if you completely forget your charger it is much more likely that a plug can be found if that plug is standardized (they are common these days at airports). Even if it can't, a charger can be picked up at a corner drugstore for minimal cost instead of having to go to a cell phone or electronics specialty store and buying an expensive specialized one (if you can find it) at a much higher cost.
Thanks, EU, for making everyone use microUSB for charging. It was really ridiculous with every device having its own connector---and as a side benefit, the USB data connection is much more widely used and working.
I didn't know that requirement expires in 2012. Kudos to EU again for pursuing it. This is an example where the free market simply wasn't able to come up with a solution and regulation worked well for the consumer. Sadly, the US regulatory system is in such disarray that I am not surprised that they couldn't come up with this outcome.
Now, if someone could do something about the laptop and cellphone batteries :)
@przem: Now, if someone could do something about the laptop and cellphone batteries :)
Forget about laptop batteries -- what about laptop power supplies -- I cannot even think hoe many I've gone through over the years -- it's $%^$ rediculous that every notepad has a completely different power supply interface (mutter mutter, grumble grumble)
Max, you're right. I have a Targus power adapter that came with six different plugs, and none fits my Chromebook.
My main computer is a Dell XPS and my wife has a Macbook. When we travel we only take the Chromebook and a Nexus tablet, but before we needed all gear. We really need a solution for laptops, probably a standard for charging batteries.
One of the new HP Chromebooks can use a standard Smartphone charger, but those do not need a lot of power.
Electronic product seem to be moving to Micro-USB here in the US. Two recent purchases both use it: A bluetooth speaker and an mp3 player. Of course, my wife's Samsung phone uses it. But, I have four Apple devices (all 30 pin) and Apple will always be Apple.
Yesterday, I ordered several more Apple 30-pin charge/sync cables. Two are for cars to replace Micro USB after I switched from a Samsung feature phone to an iPhone 4. The others will be scattered around the house.
So fo the most part, we're down to two types of cables, micro USB and Apple 30-pin.
One exception is a digital camera I bought last year. It's connector looks like microUSB but is slightly different. So, you have to use the cable that came with the camera. :-(
Why even bother with a power cord? According to this article (http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/14/tech/innovation/wireless-electricity/index.html?iid=article_sidebar); a company called WiTricity is said to be looking for EOMs to help develop products using their "Source Resonator" — a coil of electrical wire that generates a magnetic field when power is attached. They contend that their applied-for patents are not the same thing as what Tesla was attempting to do with alternating current transmissions. They vision that the whole house will be a magnetic resonator that will even do away with the power cord on your TV/PC...
My 7 year old toothbrush is way ahead of its time!
@pseudoid, there are several wireless charging solutions in the market. A very popular one is PowerMat, but requires a special case for the device. They have teamed up with Startbucks and AT&T to have wireless power in many Starbucks coffee shops.
Sony has announced charging covers for their Xperia Z2 phone and tablet, and a Wireless Charging Plate, but the solution will add another $100 to the phone price.
Power needs for different equipment can and do very widely. A single charger solution has a great deal of appeal. However legislating in an attempt to make "one size fits all' will create it's own set of problems. I have a tablet that requires a high power charger: 18W. I don't know how anyone else feels about it but I would not be happy having to wait several additional hours for my tablet or phone to recharge. And if it was charging, I wouldn't be able to use it since the adapter couldn't even power the device and charge simultaineously. If politicians must meddle, they should at least understand what they are messing with.