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Cellphones Hardware

EU Commissioner Wants Standard For Mobile Phone Connectors 374

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-that-will-never-happen dept.
Jantastic writes "European Commissioner Günter Verheugen wants manufacturers of mobile phones to come up with a standard connector for chargers and microphones. If companies fail to do so, proposed legislation should speed up this process. In theory, this could improve competition, while enabling longer life cycles for these devices."
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EU Commissioner Wants Standard For Mobile Phone Connectors

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  • USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toe, The (545098) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:46PM (#26877717)
    You mean like USB and, I dunno... maybe mini-USB?
    • So every phone from your cell provider has a USB or mini-USB connector for charging? Must be nice.
      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:53PM (#26877829)

        Nokia already made the switch.

        Most of the new phones have mini-usb already. Instead of having two connectors, one for power and one for data, they can now have just one on the phone. Also, mini-usb is quite convenient for the other end's requirement and cheap to implement.

        • Mod parent up. My camera USB cable works great on my wife's nokia and the latest Motorola phones. Not only did I not need to buy a cable, I reused it for two new applications!
          • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:00PM (#26878927)

            But your looking at it from the wrong side. You did not need to purchase two additional cables that cost a few pennies to make, and sell for $10-$25, in addition to car chargers, international chargers, etc. That's why the industry is dragging its feet.

        • Re:USB? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Kokuyo (549451) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:08PM (#26878101) Journal

          Ah, you mean like the N95 8GB that lets me connect with a standard mini usb cable but will not charge over the same?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Johnny2225 (965346)
            Some of the newer nokias also allow charing over Mini USB. Think the N96 does.
        • Re:USB? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Archimonde (668883) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:12PM (#26879083) Homepage

          Those are actually Micro-USB connectors.

          For example Nokia E71 [nokia.com].

          You can read more about those types of usb connectors here [wikipedia.org].

        • Re:USB? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:26PM (#26879269)

          If nokia does it then everyone will...

          Every nokia phone I've had has had a different charger connector that didn't work with the other nokia phones. Every non-nokia phone I've had (OK, with the exception of one sony/erikson one) has used a mini-usb connector for both data and charging.

          • Re:USB? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday February 16, 2009 @08:39PM (#26880231) Homepage

            Nokia always used 2 standards before totally moving to USB on new models. Why 2? Because the older one was too big for new fashion small phones so they used 1 smaller form factor. On the other hand, besides their greedy charger prices, Nokia always used a very standard charger compared to others. It is just 3.7 Volt which seems similar to battery voltage.

            See Samsung and Sony older models about the real evil stuff especially Samsung. At least Sony had decency to keep one charger format.

            I think they already stabilized on USB except Apple but Apple has a very nice excuse as iPod connector is open and really popular and USB based anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by roc97007 (608802)

          ...Also some Motorola phones, and Blackberry. (My Bold and daughter's Curve will charge with a standard USB cable.) Dunno, other than the high price of cute white interface cables, Apple hasn't changed over to mini-USB. Their current products already charge and communicate over USB, just with a proprietary connector at the device end.

          Regarding headphones, I've noticed that the headset that came with my Blackberry (with microphone and mute switch) works in Daughter's Curve and (oddly enough) in her iPo

          • Re:USB? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by dov_0 (1438253) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:56PM (#26879729)
            Apple will always use proprietary connectors etc. They're worse than Microsoft in regards to copyright and patents. If they'd loosened up 15yrs ago they could have beaten the pc as well as trampled whatever other market they chose to step into.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Ilgaz (86384)

              Do you have clue about how many iPods exist on planet? Nearing what? Hundreds of millions? Why should they use plain USB when they have a device combining an ipod and some kind of smart phone? If they came up with plain USB connector or some kind of iPhone connector, that would be really evil considering amount of iPod connector enabled devices (even cars!) people already have.

              I think the spec is open anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        I've seen two LG phones now that have some sort of pseudo-mini USB which will not fit a standard cable. It's a scam to force you to buy overpriced cabling from them.

        • by qw0ntum (831414)
          Was it a microUSB [wikipedia.org] port you saw? That is what my LG phone has for connecting to my computer and charging. It's definitely not non-standard, although it was the first device I got that used the micro.
          • It's definitely not a micro-USB. I used a standard one to fiddle around with my wife's old Motorola, but both my junky LG Keybo (anybody installed Linux on that yet????) and my daughters' LG have non-standard USB cables.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Zackbass (457384)

              You sure? My LG Keybo (aka enV2) most definitely has a standard USB micro B. I'm looking at the cable right now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by argent (18001)

          It could be Mini-A instead of Mini-B, or it could be Micro-A or Micro-B, or maybe USB-OTG Mini-AB or Micro-AB.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Mini_and_micro [wikipedia.org]

      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Informative)

        by plover (150551) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:57PM (#26877907) Homepage Journal

        It is very nice. Motorola standardized on the mini-USB connector back around the time they introduced the RAZR. Every Motorola product I've bought since about 2005 uses a mini-USB jack for power and charging. This includes a Bluetooth stereo adapter, a couple pairs of Bluetooth headphones, a Bluetooth handsfree ear-bud, and at least five different models of cell phones.

        And I have never had to buy a separate cable to connect my Motorola phones to my PC when it's time to upload new content. That's not true of my Sony-Ericsson or Nokia phones.

        And because they're all the same, I have several identical power bricks, which is ideal for having one at work, a couple in different rooms at home, my wife has one, and our car chargers are all interoperable.

        It's one of those levels of convenience that seems stupid and shallow (and probably is), but it definitely drives me back to Motorola as a customer.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by JohnAllison (838880)
          This was one of the reasons I purchased my SLVR years ago.

          I later discovered that I can not charge the phone, and use the audio out at the same time. (Think cross country road trips) Other than that I do like the idea of a singular connector to charge.

          As devil's advocate, let's look at the iPhone, because I have one and am familiar with it. Two connectors, one for audio/mic, another, the proprietary dock connector.

          I assume Apple and those with other proprietary connectors would have to retool how th

          • Re:USB? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by chriso11 (254041) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:06PM (#26878997) Journal

            But the point of the article is that the industry DIDN'T offer any uniform solution. How much longer should we have to wait?

          • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by plover (150551) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:28PM (#26879315) Homepage Journal

            No, I agree that it would be bad for a government to regulate this as a standard, because most governments have proven to be spectacularly poor with most standards. Strangely enough, this is a place where the United States actually does OK, I think. Rather than try to create industry standards, they will usually pass standards applicable only on federal government purchased products, such as with Defense department contracts or GAO purchases. If any manufacturer wanting to sell 100,000 phones to Uncle Sam is required to use mini-USB for charging and headphones, the chances are good they'll put mini-USB on their consumer models as well, as a part of the economies of scale.

            But I do think this is a case where the free market just isn't working. For example, me. I'm buying Motorola products partly because they follow a useful (to me) standard. That's exactly how the free market is supposed to drive decisions like this.

            The bigger problem is I'm backing a dying horse. Motorola has been struggling as a mobile phone maker ever since the RAZR lost its dominant seat. Mini-USB connectors aren't enough when the rest of the features are blown away by the iPhone, Android, or Symbian offering, or by some other manufacturer's lowball pricing. And quite frankly, the Motorola apps are pretty awful (except for the MOTOMAGX linux system, and even that has bugs.) There's a giant pile of competing features and attributes, and connector standardization just isn't going to be the deal breaker for most people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by QuantumRiff (120817)

          FYI, the newest Motorola's seem to have moved to a Micro-USB connector. While you can find adapters from mini-USB to Micro-USB, they are about the same price as buying a new cable.

      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:15PM (#26878225) Homepage Journal

        It's getting that way, but if the legislators get hold of it they'll probably define yet another new and unnecessary standard instead of something sensible like that.

        • +1 insightful.

          Here in the U.S. the legislators forced Digital HD-VHS to conform to Firewire connections, in order to stop piracy. That would have been okay, but they mandated a bastardized version with only 4 prongs instead of the usual 6, and finding a Cable or TV tuner box with that special connector is nigh impossible.

          If D-VHS had been able to capture signals over RF connectors, like analog VHS does, the standard would have been successful for recording HDTV as early as 2001, rather than being non-frien

      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zocalo (252965) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:18PM (#26878275) Homepage
        The ones that I'll even consider buying any more do. The same goes for any another gadget with a potential for connection to a PC and a realistic expectation that USB will be capable of providing enough juice to charge it up. Heck, even some of my devices (a desktop fan and a *toothbrush*) that have zero real need for a PC connection use a Mini-USB socket for their power needs. Being able to go away and only pack one wall wart, plus have the confidence that even if you lose it you can get a local replacement without any hassle at all is about as good as it gets for portable devices.

        Also, can anyone *please* explain what possible reasoning might lie behind EICTA's Tony Graziano statement that Verheugen's demand is "legally and technically impossible" due to differences in voltage and battery requirements within the European Union? Seriously. Inquiring minds want to know! I have a USB wall wart with a modular mains connector that you just snap the appropriate plug onto and that handles just about any input voltage you care to chuck at it and it has the EU stamp of approval on it, so I think it's absolutely legally and technically possible.
    • by neokushan (932374)

      I'd love for all future phones to be connectible via USB. No doubt even if some kind of legislation passes, the phone companies will pawn a crippled bluetooth implementation as being the "universal connector" while still making you shell out £25 for a stupid cable that just so happens to do something the bluetooth can't.

    • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by compro01 (777531) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:53PM (#26877825)

      Sounds like a good idea. You just need to get the manufacturer's to do that.

      Which is never going to happen without regulation, as they make a decent amount of money selling magical cables and power bricks.

      I have only seen one phone with a real standard (not "let's put 2.5V across the data lines for incompatibility purposes" or "requires a special driver on the computer to bestow it's blessing to charge the phone" or other such nonsense) USB connection.

      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cillian (1003268) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:05PM (#26878045) Homepage
        Well, if enough manufacturers start doing it, people will get pissed off when their standard charger doesn't work. So you don't need to force all manufacturers to do it, if you can convince a lot to do somehow. The somehow, being the question. Though I can't see it being a major choosing point in me buying a future phone, it'd definitely be a nice thing to have if it becomes common. And I'm all for it being mini-USB, since there are already cables abound for powering it from the wall, computers, batteries, and solar panels. (Not to mention it'd be pretty neat to standardise an accessory port. I'm currently considering paying 30 quid to nokia for a decent headphone adapter thing because I have to use the shitty pop-port on my n73. And that's on top of the 15 quid I'll be spending to actually get a decent set of headhones)
      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@co[ ]ll.edu ['rne' in gap]> on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:06PM (#26878071) Homepage

        The problem is that there is no way to charge phones in a standard way with USB.

        USB dictates that a device is only permitted to draw 100 mA unless it has negotiated a connection with a host AND that host has given it permission to draw more.

        As a result, any device that charges from USB must either:
        a) Limit itself to 100 mA or less (not going to happen)
        b) Limit itself to only charging when it enumerates with a PC (see the "special driver" scenario, although there are admittedly better ways to do this - behave as a "standard" device for which all modern OSes have drivers, but still this is a very restrictive approach as it doesn't allow for "dumb chargers".)
        c) Have some sort of method to signify the presence of a "dumb charger" to the device. THIS IS NOT COVERED BY ANY CURRENT USB SPECIFICATION. As a result it is at best covered by "de facto" standards. For example, mini-USB connectors have an additional pin not found in normal USB connectors. (Why, I do not know, I'm guessing "future growth" for later USB revisions). It is defined as "not connected" in standard USB, but it's a "de facto" standard (adopted by Motorola, Blackberry, HTC, Holux, and quite a few others) to signify a "dumb charger" by grounding this pin. (Unfortunately, most devices will fail to operate as a data device when this pin is grounded.)

        Sadly, Apple does it in a different manner with weird resistances and voltages.

        Unfortunately there's no way to standardize this without somehow incorporating it into USB 3.0. I sort of recall that this might have actually been taken into account for USB 3.0, but if not, it's too late for the EU - USB 4.0 is a looooooooong way away.

        • by Kokuyo (549451)

          My ex HTC P3300 charged just fine over USB.

        • by compro01 (777531)

          Must be something odd about my laptop's cooling pad as it can draw roughly 400mA without any driver stuff. the data lines are open circuited, with the Vcc to the fan motors and the ground through a switch to same.

        • Re:USB? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:36PM (#26878551)
          c) Have some sort of method to signify the presence of a "dumb charger" to the device. THIS IS NOT COVERED BY ANY CURRENT USB SPECIFICATION. As a result it is at best covered by "de facto" standards.

          Here's a pretty reasonable "de-facto" standard that says you are talking to a "dumb charger": if there is no data on the data wires and nothing connected to them at the other end, you're talking to a dumb "power only" supply.

          Manufacturers could easily adopt this outside the USB spec, since there is nothing preventing them from doing so. They must follow the spec when attached to a real USB source, but if there are no termination resistors on the data lines at the other end, then they aren't talking to a USB source and can do what they want.

          In fact, there is already a (pseudo?) standard for how to connect earphones/handsfree hardware using the same mini-USB connection, apparently based on the ability to detect the difference between handsfree hardware and a true USB source.

          Most of the devices I now have have mini-USB for charging and communication. The Sansa MP3 player I have has some oddball connector, so it's the odd man out.

          BUT, the Sony PRS-505 I have, even though it has a mini-USB connection for data, is, IMNSHO, broken because it will only charge via that connection IF is it connected directly to a primary USB host adapter and can enumerate itself on the bus. No hubs. No "dumb power supplies". Even if the hub is externally powered -- no charge! It will actually DISCHARGE the device completely in such a situation, because it will stay powered on attempting to communicate with the USB host while it is not charging from the USB connection, even if there is no USB host to talk to.

          So, count me in the camp that considers mini-USB to be the defacto standard for connecting anything to anything, and that manufacturers that require proprietary cables for simple things should buy a clue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Actually, there is a specification from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) for battery charging at up to 1.5A. You can download the specification [usb.org] ('Battery Charging Spec v1.0 Spec and Battery Charging Adopters Agreement') from their website [usb.org].

          You're right that USB charging is pretty badly standardized at the moment though. For instance, neither my iPhone nor my Garmin Nuvi will charge without their special cables with magic resistances. I used to be able to charge an iPod off a USB cable I soldered onto a 5V

      • by Tacvek (948259)

        All HTC phones phones have real standard USB connections.

        Now, there is something special about drawing more than 1/2 amp (maximum allowed by USB standard), as the charging station can distinguish between the supplied 1 amp charger, and other power sources (real usb, or smaller chargers).

        This much I do know:
        It will charge at at least 1/2 amp from dumb chargers, or will charge at whatever current it can negotiate from a usb host. It will charge at one amp with the provided cable. It might charge at 1 amp with

    • You mean like USB and, I dunno... maybe mini-USB?

      Yup, that would be good, or at least require them to include an adaptor in the box. The other thing that they should sort out is getting these phones to be able to recharge with any USB power plug. The iPhone and the iPod are guilty here, requiring you to buy special 'iPod' capable power adapters. Then again it could be the plug manufacturers for not wiring all the lines up in the USB portion of the plug.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by corsec67 (627446)

        Then again it could be the plug manufacturers for not wiring all the lines up in the USB portion of the plug.

        All 4 lines have to be wired up, or many things would fail to recognize/use the USB port.

        The issue with Apple is that the device being plugged into the port is only supposed to draw 100mA (1 "unit"), and can request more, but shouldn't draw the extra power until being told it is "ok". So it seems that instead of just drawing 100mA, the iPhone draws either 500mA with authorization or none without.

        Many

      • by Ironsides (739422)
        In at least a mild defense of apple, they use their connector for a variety of things, not just data. That connector is used for analog audio, analog video and for accessories. USB wouldn't allow them to do that, unless they added a 2nd connector (which they are loathe to do). In fact, if all the phone manufacturers standardized on USB, they would also need a 2nd connector for the wired microphones and headsets as the USB port would not accept it. Well, unless they came up with yet another standard or u
      • Re:USB? (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@worfMOSCOW.net minus city> on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:25PM (#26878381)

        Yup, that would be good, or at least require them to include an adaptor in the box. The other thing that they should sort out is getting these phones to be able to recharge with any USB power plug. The iPhone and the iPod are guilty here, requiring you to buy special 'iPod' capable power adapters. Then again it could be the plug manufacturers for not wiring all the lines up in the USB portion of the plug.

        Actually, that is the problem. A USB charger doesn't just supply 5V on Vbus and that's it. A USB device that's properly spec'ed can't draw more than 500mA from a USB port, but given some USB devices, that could mean it takes days to charge via USB, or even, it doesn't charge at all. (There are devices out there that draw more than 500mA when busy, so it's actually possible to drain the battery while in use.)

        To cope with this, there is a "USB Charging Specification" that specifies how to identify the charger, so devices can do a quick detection, and if it is a charger, start drawing 800mA, 1A, 2A or however much they want to to ensure a fast charge, or even slow charging while busy. This is done via a specially selected set of resistors hooked to Vbus and ground to the D+ and D- lines. The charger itself shorts D+ to D-, and whe connected, instead of the idle state that is expected (D+/D- low - pulled by weak pulldowns from the host), it detects a "1" state on both pins. The device then knows it's safe to draw whatever it wants.

        Oh yeah, unconfigured USB devices can only draw 100mA for a limited time - long enough to charge its battery so it can identify itself, at which point it must disconnect, boot up, and identify itself, at which point, it can draw 100mA or 500mA from the port (depending on what the bus can supply).

        Cheap devices can use just 5V on Vbus and charge. Proper USB drives that pass USB certification can't, and if they attempt to draw more than 500mA from a host port on a PC, it's a fail. Hence schemes like these so they can pass certification, but still be able to "fast charge" properly. It's surprisingly difficult to do USB power "properly."

        USB 3.0 devices can have 150mA unconfigured or 900mA (I believe) configured.

    • You mean USB with its maximum power draw of 500 mA @ 5V? No thanks. Charging takes too damned long already.

      • by DrYak (748999)

        maximum power draw of 500 mA @ 5V? {...} Charging takes too damned long already.

        Huh... sorry, what do you plan charging that requires 10A on 5V ? A (non-netbook) laptop ? A portable oven ? An arc welder ?

        Read again the title.
        They want standard data & charge for *mobile* cell phone. For these small candy-bar sized electronic device, which can charge at 500mA for a couple of hours, and which consider 1A as "mad lightning fast turbo charging OMGBBQFTW !!!"

        Most phone are quite happy with 500mA and provide 1A only as a convenience for super-impatient users.

        If your current monster requir

    • by BESTouff (531293)
      There just needs to be a standard way of asking for more current than is currently available (when following the USB spec) for charging. For example, the Openmoko FreeRunner can consume 1A over its USB plug, and even if most USB hubs can satisfy that, it's impossible to ask formally over the wire.
    • Actually, mini-USB type B is becoming the de facto standard for mobile device power and data cables.

      Personally, I won't buy any device that doesn't use it. This makes my life much easier, as I only need one charger/data cable when I travel.

      I expect this will be the standard until it is replaced by magnetic chargers for power with bluetooth for data. That's a consumer's heaven: 100% cordless everything!

  • by heretic108 (454817) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:55PM (#26877879)

    This is a typical case where pure laissez-faire capitalism can go against the best interests of the consumer. It reminds me of the personal computer industry of the early 1980s, dominated by proprietary, overpriced, non-interoperable components. IBM moved in with its PC and blew the field wide open, paving the way for today's mix-and-match technology.

    Today, we need the same thing for cellphones. Given manufacturers' unwillingness to standardise on a connection interface, and given the lack of a massive IBM-like industry giant willing to push an open standard, there is a case for legislative intervention to come up with a freely published and accessible interface.

    The cellphone industry would soar ahead if there was an ISO standard for connection of peripherals, power sources and accessories.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The cellphone industry would soar ahead if there was an ISO standard for connection of peripherals, power sources and accessories.

      Then why don't they do it without legislation?

      • by compro01 (777531) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:03PM (#26878007)

        Creeping along is more profitable than soaring ahead.

      • Prisoner's dilemma?

        Grok that idea + the tragedy of the commons and you'll understand 99% of the problems with capitalism.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wiredlogic (135348)

        Then why don't they do it without legislation?

        Because the profit margins on accessory power supplies are huge. By constantly reinventing the wheel the phone manufacturers ensure constant demand for these products. In recent years, however, this proprietary game has become somewhat of a losing battle for them now that there dozens of Chinese companies putting out off brand supplies with compatible connectors.

      • by Cillian (1003268)
        Other than forcing it through regulation (Which I'm not for), what incentive is there for them to? It basically means they'll probably never sell another charger again, they probably can't add much value (price) to the phone through it, and 99% of people are not going to buy a phone because of it.
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        Because Cell phones are cheap and easy to replace.
    • by icebike (68054) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:15PM (#26878239)

      Quote:
        "This is a typical case where pure laissez-faire capitalism can go against the best interests of the consumer. It reminds me of the personal computer industry of the early 1980s, dominated by proprietary, overpriced, non-interoperable components. IBM moved in with its PC and blew the field wide open, paving the way for today's mix-and-match technology."

      Skuze me?!?!?

      Wasn't that a clear cut case of laissez-faire capitalism to the rescue? Did some government body force IBM to open their platform?

      If you are going to rant against a particular system (what ever it may be) don't use a crowning example of the success of said system in the same paragraph.

      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday February 16, 2009 @07:45PM (#26879569) Homepage

        Wasn't that a clear cut case of laissez-faire capitalism to the rescue? Did some government body force IBM to open their platform?

        Well, in a way... when IBM lost their copyright infringement lawsuit against Compaq for reverse-engineering and clean-room-reimplementing the IBM BIOS. That's not so much a government body saying "You must open your platform" as "you can't stop others from opening your platform for you as long as they abide by the law."

        You better believe IBM didn't want anyone else to be able to make compatible hardware. But there was a huge financial incentive for anyone interested in making clones to make compatible hardware, and the law just happened to be on their side. I actually shudder to think what would have happened if the legal environment then had been like it is now.

        So it kinda is still a bad example. IBM was forced against their will to open their platform, but this was actually a result of a weakness in the anti-laissez-faire monopoly granted by copyright law.

        The problem in this case, is that just about nobody has an incentive to make compatible chargers. At least not phone makers. Why, when they can charge extra for proprietary cables? I really couldn't say if there's any patent or copyright related protection makers of these proprietary chargers could claim, but it isn't clear it would matter either way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by don.g (6394)

        Wasn't that a clear cut case of laissez-faire capitalism to the rescue? Did some government body force IBM to open their platform?

        Actually, yes. IBM got sued for antitrust violations in 1969, and according to a documentary I saw on TV once, was a major factor in their decision to release the PC with a manual that included full BIOS source code and circuit schematics [wikipedia.org].

    • Umm, to correct your history, the PC market didn't open up until Compaq clean-room reverse engineered IBM's bios. Also, IBM was kind of cheap in how they built the PC and used a lot of commodity components making it particularly easy to clone aside from the BIOS. But let's not let reality cloud your analogy.

      As it is, the cell phone industry seems to be largely gravitating to a micro-USB style connector. The last time we bought new phones at work, we gave our vendor an ultimatum: they all had to use t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jrumney (197329)
      In Japan the networks have forced standard connectors on the manufacturers. There are 4 types of connector available in Japan (which is really annoying when you travel there and forget your charger) - NTT Docomo/Softbank 3G, Softbank 2G, KDDI 3G and KDDI 2G. It means that every convenience store can offer mobile phone charging points as part of its service, because the number of connectors is vastly reduced compared with the manufacturer and year specific connectors found elsewhere.
  • While I will not under estimate the problem this proposal would potentially solve, I thought the honorable commissioner should have started with file formats.

    The issue of file formats has been around longer. We as users continue live with the consequences of what the commissioner does or does not do on this front.

    Am I being unreasonable?

    • What file formats are you talking about? I've never ran into (or even heard of) that problem, but then again, maybe I'm just uninformed (if so, please, enlighten me). However, the issue of dozens of different charging connectors is one that almost every phone owner has run into. Ever forget your charger when you're leaving on a vacation? You're SOL. Need a quick charge at your friends house? Better pray his charger is compatible with your phone. Furthermore, it essentially forces you to purchase chargers fr

    • by imbaczek (690596)
      you are not unreasonable, you are off topic. standardized connectors are badly needed.
    • by discord5 (798235)

      File formats don't have consumer watchdogs up in arms. Their MS Office works just fine unfortunately.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:02PM (#26877983) Homepage
    ...they could go with this [techexams.net].
  • USA Competition! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glassware (195317) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:03PM (#26878013) Homepage Journal

    Man, it's a good thing here in the U.S. we don't have any overzealous regulator deciding what kinds of power adapters we should have on mobile phones. Here in the U.S. every vendor decides to make their own unique adapter, with their own unique configuration, and their own labelling, and their own connector, so that we have to have the latest power adapter for every phone every time we upgrade.

    Looking over the dozens of adapters I've had to buy over the years, it's great that I can have such a variety of choices. Each of these dozen products clearly demonstrates competition at work. In fact, some companies compete so hard they don't even put the name of the phone on the power adapter, so even though the connectors look alike I have to doublecheck all their UL listings to see which one applies to each phone so I don't burn it out every time I plug it in!

    What's great is that, now, some vendors are even creating better lock-in techniques. Some USB adapters I have work on some phones and some devices but not on others. Some old adapters fit perfectly but produce error messages on other devices. As a result I have an awesome drawer filled with tons of high-end technology and I get to sift through it to find the advanced technology I need to run my phone.

    The best part is that, if I forget my adapter, the company makes tons of profits on selling after-market power adapters! They make so much money on those $30 aftermarket adapters that they can afford to drop their prices elsewhere! That's why I pay $150 per month for my cellphone service when most poor Europeans pay a few dozen Euros each month for their highly regulated mobile phones.

    Living without regulation is really the best way to go. I mean, my mobile phone company charges $15 per month for unlimited text messages, and their profits are so good I get all sorts of benefits from working with them! So many benefits that I can't list them all here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Toe, The (545098)

      The best part is that, if I forget my adapter, the company makes tons of profits on selling after-market power adapters! They make so much money on those $30 aftermarket adapters that they can afford to drop their prices elsewhere!

      This also means they are helping out the economy, and so, by your participation, you are helping the economy.

      Without this sort of lock-in price-gouging, the U.S economy could be in real trouble. It could even go into a deep recession.

    • by freedom_india (780002) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:18PM (#26878273) Homepage Journal

      Your sarcastic comment would be funny, if it weren't sadly true.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Archimonde (668883)

      Europe is far away from dreamland though.

      Every manufacturer has its own transformer and connector so you can't interchange them. Nokia itself changed almost a dozen different types of connectors in the last 10 years (as did others too). Finally they settled (I hope so) on micro-usb connectors for charging and computer tethering. But they only did this because Chinese authorities decided that all mobile phone connectors should be micro-usb. As the Chinese market is too large to ignore, Nokia had to change th

  • Ok, I might be wrong but didn't The Register run an article for quite a while ago that China was going to enforce legislation on all mobiles sold in China that they needed to use a standard contact for the charger?
    If so, isn't this really only a way to follow Chinas decision?

  • There is no reason there are more than 5 or 6 models of A/C units, alternators, etc.

    There should be a standard light duty, medium duty, heavy duty model and standard connection brackets.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PitaBred (632671)
      Yeah! And while we're at it, let's let the electric companies provide power at whatever voltage and frequency they want. I mean, it's not like your different alternators all provide 12V current, right? Wait... they do? So all your electrical accessories in your vehicle can expect to get a 12V electrical supply? And you can buy any automotive battery that supplies 12V and it works? Damn.

      The reason alternators aren't standardized is because you rarely have to work directly with them. If you had to replace
  • How would a standard connector promote longer life?

    Who trades in a phone just to get a different connector?

  • Conflicted goals? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by macraig (621737) <mark DOT a DOT craig AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:12PM (#26878175)

    I don't get it... how can the same commission that calls for doubling copyright to a ridiculous 95 years also recommend a good-for-the-rest-of-us standard like this? It seems like this commission has some rather conflicted or confused goals and motivations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phroggy (441)

      I don't get it... how can the same commission that calls for doubling copyright to a ridiculous 95 years also recommend a good-for-the-rest-of-us standard like this? It seems like this commission has some rather conflicted or confused goals and motivations.

      It's quite simple, really:

      1) Nobody has bribed them to keep mobile phone connectors proprietary and incompatible with each other.

      2) Politicians use mobile phones themselves. A lot. They're personally annoyed by having to keep track of the different cables and connectors. They're not annoyed by having to pay a bunch of money to buy copies of 90-year-old works, because they have a bunch of money and aren't interested in doing any of the cool things that can only be done with works in the public domain or r

  • by Kabada (1436459) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:13PM (#26878193)
    As spiegel.de, where I first read about Guenter Verheugens plans, says: "It's a nice idea, but 7 years too late, and your doing it for publicity only!" This commissions' term is nearly over (or at least close enough to being over for this plan to not have a rat's asses chance of being implemented while Guenter is still in office). Thus I can only agree with spiegel's assessment: Verheugen wants to go out with something attentiongrabbing (hereby accomplished) and those plans will be put back into a drawer once he leaves office.
  • by Zouden (232738) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:33PM (#26878491)

    All the comments about "just use USB!" miss one important point: it's not necessarily the best form-factor for a charger. If anything, the Nokia charger [dailymobile.se] is.

    -it's tiny and cheap to make: just a 2mm barrel.
    -rotational symmetry, unlike USB, so you can plug it in while talking.
    -low friction, so it won't damage the phone if the cable gets pulled.

    I think the best solution would be to make the Nokia charger plug into a standard, as part of the EIAJ barrel connector [wikipedia.org] standards. Those plugs are already just a series of different-sized barrels, so the Nokia connector would make sense there, at the small end of the range.

    This doesn't solve the problem of a data connection. But as far as simple charging goes, nothing beats the Nokia connector.

  • Apple adapter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chelsel (1140907) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:43PM (#26878649) Homepage
    Apple will probably require the purchase of an adapter to make their device compatible with the standard.
  • by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday February 16, 2009 @08:46PM (#26880289)

    mandated this years ago, we could be using a DB25 connector on our cell phones today!

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission

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