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EU move to standardise phone chargers is bad news for Apple

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In a move that'll be cheered by phone users the world over, the European Union has decided that mobile phones should have a standard charger plug.

In a unanimous vote, the EU's Internal Market Committee decided that there's no good reason the charger should be treated as a proprietary secret. As German MEP Barbera Weiler put it, manufacturers should “put an end to cable chaos for mobile phones and tablet computers”.

The move is widely viewed as singling out Apple, which has long marched to its own drum on the matter of chargers. Although Apple, Nokia and RIM signed up to a voluntary agreement based on Micro-USB back in 2010, Cupertino never mentioned it to the design teams, preferring its own connectors (both of which can, however, at least use an adapter to connect to Micro-USB).

The next step for the EU is for the committee to negotiate the necessary legislation through the European Parliament. And that means the EU move isn't going to offer any relief for people whose households already include more than one iPhone variant alongside an iPad.

However, on the assumption that standardisation will be required one or two versions down the track, perhaps Cupertino's designers will take the hint and begin the thousands of hours' work trying to make sure that a generic interface can accurately reflect its brand values. ®

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