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In a surprising move, Apple (s aapl) has signed on with a handful of other major mobile device manufacturers to end the madness of proprietary charging interfaces and agreed to one standard for all, according to Reuters. That’s in Europe, anyway, although there’s hope that the agreement could result in more cross-compatibility on this side of the Atlantic, too.
Along with Apple, five other cell phone manufacturers have agreed to the deal put forward by the European Commission, which is not binding and instead depends on voluntary cooperation from the private sector. The other five companies are Sony Ericsson (s sne), Nokia (s nok), Research In Motion (s rimm), Motorola (s mot) and Samsung, which means that Apple basically had to toe the line or risk looking like the villain in a field of heroes. Hopefully no one breaks rank, since that could result in the agreement becoming insubstantial.
The agreed-upon standard is micro-USB, which is already fairly ubiquitous, so it will be a huge bonus for consumers if this goes through as planned. I’ve got about four or five micro-USB cables lying around within eyeshot, in fact. Devices from companies that agree to the standard will have to ship with a charger that matches the specifications put forward by the commission, though eventually the two will be allowed to be sold separately. The time frame for implementation of the new standard is said to be within 3-4 years, and the hope is that by adopting a single charger, people will have less cause to throw out their old ones when they purchase a new phone.
For Apple, the agreement will lead to the inclusion of an adapter rather than the abandonment of the dock connector standard they’ve so consistently championed. An Apple spokesperson said in a statement following the deal’s announcement that it’ll ship future iPhones with a dock-connectable micro-USB adapter, which is completely in compliance with the specifics of the new agreement.