Late last week the European Parliament voted to push for a single standard charger for mobile devices. I'm sure you can guess what will happen next:
This new initiative, which passed with an overwhelming majority, came as part of a effort to update laws and regulations that cover radio equipment (including mobile devices). Technically last week's vote was only a draft of the new law; it won't become a law until the European Council approves the provisions, and after that EU members will have 2 years to change their national laws so they comply with the new rules.
The new standard has not yet been chosen, but the proposed design for a universal charger uses a microUSB connector - the one which is already used by a significant minority of device makers, including Amazon, Samsung, Asus, and others. (Apple, of course, does not use the same connector.)
On some levels this move makes sense, but I have to question whether it will achieve the stated goal. According to rapporteur Barbara Weiler, this is intended to reduce electronic waste: "I am especially pleased that we agreed on the introduction of a common charger. This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually," she said.
I seriously doubt anyone discards a mobile device simply because the charger is dead - not unless it was nearing the end of its life anyway. Universal replacement chargers are readily available in Radio Shack and other electronics stores, and you can even find plugs which will fit virtually any mobile device made in the past 20 years.
I also wonder why the EU is going to push for a standard connector but not wireless charging. It would seem that they are planning to adopt a standard which is rapidly going out of date.
Sure, wireless charging is still uncommon, but by the time the regulations percolate through the bureaucracies that will probably no longer be true. I would bet that wireless charging will be more common than not 2 years from now. Anyone want to take that bet?