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374 comments

USB? (5, Insightful)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877717)

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

Re:USB? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877745)

So every phone from your cell provider has a USB or mini-USB connector for charging? Must be nice.

Re:USB? (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877807)

You can get cells with their own special USB connectors (like iPod/iPhones). You can get cells with micro USB, you can get cell phones with mini-USB.

You can get cells with 2.5mm headphones, you can get some with 3.5mm headphones.

Its all rather annoying.

Re:USB? (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878405)

You can get cells with their own special USB connectors (like iPod/iPhones).

Then it's not a USB connector, is it?

It's just a random proprietary connector and you just happen to get a USB lead with it.

Re:USB? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:USB? (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877881)

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? (4, Informative)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878101)

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:USB? (2, Informative)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877833)

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.

Re:USB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26877999)

Or, the same cable online for $0.99 and $1.50 s/h. It is a dumb wire with two different ends. :/

Re:USB? (1)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878269)

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.

Re:USB? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878293)

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:USB? (1)

hags2k (1152851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877845)

So every phone from your cell provider has a USB or mini-USB connector for charging? Must be nice.

I think the GP meant to suggest that usb and mini-usb might be a good candidate for a standard charging interface.

Re:USB? (5, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877907)

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:USB? (2, Informative)

JohnAllison (838880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878299)

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 they output video, audio, line out, control, in/out, PWR, GND, and anything else over USB. Annoying, but possibly worth it to consumers.

However, how much competition are we losing by specifying which connectors or what interfaces should be mandatory. When the tech industry shoots past this legislation do we really want devices tied to legacy connectors?

Should the government regulate or is this an area where the speed of the consumer to adapt to the market will better provide the winners and losers of an industry?

I'd like to see what the industry has to offer before I call for regulation

P.S. I hate mini-Displayport.

Re:USB? (4, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878225)

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.

Re:USB? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878325)

+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-friendly and scaring off consumers.

Re:USB? (5, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878275)

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.

Re:USB? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877779)

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? (4, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (4, Insightful)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878045)

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? (5, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878357)

The somehow, being the question
By issuing an ultimatum.

When you remove the sugarcoating the european commisioners message seems to basically boil down to "we can do this the easy way or the hard way, agree a standard among yourselves or we will come up with one and ram it down your throat"

Re:USB? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878429)

Quite common amongst lawmakers, especially recently.

The UK has done something similar with ISPs regarding filesharing.

Re:USB? (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878071)

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.

Re:USB? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878215)

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? (4, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:USB? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878295)

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 third party chargers, or might stop at 1/2 amp. It might be willing to use more than 1/2 amp if a usb host provides it.

Any which way, half-amp is still a decent charging current, unless you are trying to place a call while charging.

The downside of HTC phones is that many of them use a very non-standard headset connector. (An extension to the mini-usb port).

Re:USB? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878521)

What I don't get is why they go through the trouble in the first place. You can get a dirt cheap charger for virtually any phone for less than $5 off of ebay (or many other sources - hell I got a car charger for my Nokia a few years back from the friggen dollar store - it worked fine for as long as I had that phone). Those aren't made by the OEM, and no proceeds go to them. The only thing they seem to be doing is forcing me to rebuy the cheapo chargers every time I buy a new phone.

Re:USB? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877859)

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:USB? (2, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878145)

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 devices just grab 500mA without authorization, (like USB vacuum cleaners, lights, etc.), so in this case Apple is actually correct. I think the issue is that the computer OS doesn't authorize the extra power draw if it doesn't have a driver for the specific device that was plugged in.
(More here [wikipedia.org] )

Re:USB? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878255)

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 used the really expensive USB headphones.

Re:USB? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878409)

> n 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.

What an odd statement. My Razr came with a wired mic/headset. Plugs into the same USB port.

Care to rephrase?

Most of this stuff is moving to Bluetooth anyway.

Re:USB? (5, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:USB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878127)

The problems with using the USB standards for this purpose are:

1) Unnecessary dependency on the USB standard: what if a future USB standard introduces a new connector? Then we're back to... now. And hopefully, nobody decides to charge a fee per port like Apple tried with Firewire. The USB committees won't want their hands tied by folks who just want to charge a battery.
2) The market has been free to do exactly this for years. It has not. There must be good reasons why; these I would like to hear.
3) The USB connector is big compared with almost all charger plugs. The mini-USB plug is about as big as the 5.0 mm DC adapter plug, but it's still too large for many applications.
4) USB is only available in 5 V 500 mA at best. Also, in order to get that from a standard USB port, you need to have some kind of chip to identify to the hub and ask for that power. Unnecessary complexity.

The real need is for a standard set of connectors where a specific connector type maps to a specific voltage, polarity is standardized, and things don't get wonky in undercurrent and overcurrent conditions (mostly, make sure the adapter doesn't overheat if it's not strong enough for the load). Universal adapters have numerous connectors, and a switch to set voltage and polarity. Failing to set these right usually results in the device not operating or being destroyed.

I've lost track of how many people have complained to me that they shouldn't have to worry about such things, that they should be able to plug it in and it should work, just like everything else they own. I've also heard lots of people respond with the usual "learn2charge" and such. I also remember hearing that same things back when people complained about command lines, and how, even so, GUIs just came in and took over. There is a market for a lower-risk, more-standard means of interfacing DC power to loads, but none of the actors right now see a financial incentive. Props to the Europeans for trying to get the ball rolling.

Re:USB? (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878219)

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.

Re:USB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878341)


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

This is exactly how I buy phones. If it doesn't have a USB connector then I won't buy it.

I'm also completely against the government passing this stupid requirement and as a techno-savvy gadget buyer you should be, too.

  • I'm more than capable of making this decision on my own without the government's "help"
  • What happens when there's a newer connector that's better than USB or mini-USB? No one is allowed to use it because of the existing requirement?
  • What happens if the power-draw of your gadget is greater than what USB can provide?
  • What happens if the communication rate of your gadget is greater than what USB can handle?
  • What happens if there is a limitation or flaw in the USB standard that prevents the use of it with some new and creative gadget or application?
  • What happens to all the competing data connection solutions? What if someone wanted to put Firewire/IEEE-1394 connection on a phone?
  • What happens to the holder of the USB patents now that all the phones must have one? Is every manufacturer required to license USB regardless of the cost? That takes away freedoms from phone manufacturers. Is the USB patent holder required to provide USB solutions at a reduced price or for free? That takes away freedoms from the patent holder.

Government is much slower moving than technology. It's a bad idea to use government to mandate technology - it's much better to use your own decision making process and buy what's best for you.

Re:USB? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878343)

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!

Re:USB? (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878487)

In 2006, China govt. mandated that all mobiles manuf. after a specific 2006 date had to follow a standard charging connection configuration. Works for me :)

There's nothing more frustrating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26877759)

Then going to your friends house, realising your phone is flat, and they don't have a charger to fit your phone. Mind you, most phones (that I've come into contact with) use the standard mini-USB as their charger input. The only problem with this, is when you get devices that use a handsfree hit that use their own plug, for example on the HTC Touch Dual. The handsfree kit uses a slightly modified version of the standard mini-USB (square edge on one top corner instead of both slanted in).

So what I'm trying to get at, is let's just use mini-USB for charging and syncing, and the standard headphone jack for audio. This allows hooking you PDA for a presentation to the PA system in the theatre, mind you, why the hell are you using your PDA in the first place?

Damn, after that last line, -waits for redundant score-

In theory, this could improve competition (-1, Offtopic)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877775)

In theory, communism works. In theory.

Re:In theory, this could improve competition (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26877925)

Communism works, but is not escalable to more than one person.

Sounds good to me (1)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877781)

Any reason why we (consumers) should be against this?

Re:Sounds good to me (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877855)

Any reason why we (consumers) should be against this?

Well, since this is the government, they'll inevitably come up with a standard where the connector is 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, has 874 tiny easily breakable pins, and requires a power brick that weighs 20 pounds. Also, the chargers will cost $438,000.

Re:Sounds good to me (1, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877943)

I think so. It's just another instance of regulations of consumer products. It does generally sound good, but what about regulation of other parts of the phone? I see no reason why I can't make a phone that uses whatever charger I want (presuming I'm a cell phone company). So what if nobody uses it, that's not the government's business. Or, in this case, the EU.

Next, let's regulate how much bandwidth any given individual can use at any given period of time. It will make it more convenient for anyone sharing the bandwidth. Or, more similar to this case, let's limit the amount of bandwidth a company can *give* so that it levels the playing field, creates more competition, etc. That way, small company can offer just as good an offer as big company! Better competition! All we need is the EU to regulate that, and boom! Hm. Because we have seen how effective the EU is at stuff like that (like... regulating browser packaging?)

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878211)

I see no reason why I can't make a phone that uses whatever charger I want

You (as the company) think this way because you see a charger that only you can provide as a method to increase your profits with no drawbacks. However everyone else (the government, 'society') has to deal with things like waste, or put another way the drawbacks of the companies wasteful choices.

There are many things that the government shouldn't stick their noses into, but there are also things they should because the average person and company can not see past the end of their own nose. Reducing unnecessary waste is something that would have to be regulated as the companies producing all these redundant parts see no need to reduce the amount of waste they produce on their own.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878315)

So what you're basically saying is that consumers should continue to be ripped off because it's the right of the manufacturer to do so?

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

tvjunky (838064) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878347)

[...] Because we have seen how effective the EU is at stuff like that (like... regulating browser packaging?)

I could be mistaken, but I think that the US legal system failed to deliver more than a firm slap on the wrist for microsoft, while we have indeed not yet seen how effective the EU is at stuff like that.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878047)

Currently, no...

And for the foreseeable future, probably not as well, however, I think that any "Standard" that is implimented should have a lifespan, of say no more than 5 years, where it gets brought up again for evaluation, just incase there is a new developement/technology that could be more useful (smaller, faster, more durable)

Although, as far as wires go, mini/micro USB is probably all that will ever be needed, until both charging and updating can be done internally, or wirelessly.

Re:Sounds good to me (1, Informative)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878089)

Because when you give your government precedent to expand beyond it's social contract of protecting life, liberty and property...even on your behalf, then you give it permission to expand to ALL facets of life. It isn't a government's proper role to tell a private company what features it can/cannot sell. If company A finds a market demand for connector X, company A is free to build for that market. It is free not to. It's what we call a free market, which is to say, the market system of free people. Otherwise, you are trading freedom for convenience.

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

icedivr (168266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878217)

Sure... it stifles innovation. What if a manufacturer wants to create a phone with new features or hardware expandability? Do they have to include USB atop the bus they've already created for their hardware? The connector on the bottom of the iPhone carries power and USB data, as well as audio and video out, Firewire and lines to identify the type of cradle it's in.

Someone considering a new phone really ought to factor in the cost of required accessories before making a purchasing decision.

Re:Sounds good to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878453)

10 years from now, when the technology landscape has changed, do you really want it to require government intervention before the cellphone manufacturers can switch away from previously mandated, obsolete technology?

Sounds like a great idea... (1)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877835)

No more "Anybody have a Nokia?" in the office

"Anyone have a Nokia" is not enough (3, Informative)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877931)

Apart from different connectors, different models of phone also need different voltages and current ratings. I have 3 Nokias that don't interoperate with each other's chargers.

Same deal here. The connector isn't enough. There has to be standardised voltages and currents to make the scheme work.

Re:"Anyone have a Nokia" is not enough (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878107)

I've only ever seen two nokia charger types on phones made this century, and my new phone came with an adapter for the old charger, as well as a new charger, so I'm pretty pleased with them. But miniUSB would rock.

Re:"Anyone have a Nokia" is not enough (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878469)

Afaict there were two voltages of old style charger, the standard charger and the travel (fast) charger.

The e65 at least will not work with an old style standard charger and a charger adaptor (it will work with an old style travel charger and a charger adaptor)

Re:"Anyone have a Nokia" is not enough (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878493)

I've only ever seen two nokia charger types on phones made this century, and my new phone came with an adapter for the old charger, as well as a new charger, so I'm pretty pleased with them. But miniUSB would rock.

Right now there is the small connector and the larger, older connector for Nokia.

But the larger connector has in the past been used with phones that required a different charger - different voltage/current specs.

Re:"Anyone have a Nokia" is not enough (1)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878141)

Half of the consumers don't know or care about their model numbers and use adapters interchangeably as long as they fit. I've seen it and it's scary. I've had people say to me a few years ago "You don't have a VX9800, you have 'The V'!" or "How do you remember all these model numbers?"

Restoring the balance (4, Insightful)

heretic108 (454817) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Restoring the balance (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26877923)

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?

Re:Restoring the balance (3, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878007)

Creeping along is more profitable than soaring ahead.

Re:Restoring the balance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878113)

Creeping along is more profitable than soaring ahead.

So you want the government to force them to make less money? How would you feel about mandating a 1% profit margin?

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878021)

Prisoner's dilemma?

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

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

dutchdabomb (248104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878235)

Businesses partner all the time for their common good. Not partnering now means they don't think it's in their common good to partner. Do you think the government knows how to run their businesses better than they do?

Re:Restoring the balance (2, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878139)

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.

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

dutchdabomb (248104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878301)

Exactly. The legislation is nothing more than hurting the cell phone manufacturer on the consumer's behalf. Of course legislative hostility toward the manufacturers will discourage investment in cell phones, thus ultimately hurting the consumer as there are fewer entrants into the market, R&D budgets are slashed, and so forth.

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878149)

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.

Re:Restoring the balance (0)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878157)

No, there's no case for legislative intervention here. There's a shitload of phones with mini-USB/3.5mm connectors to choose from, so get any one of those models and the "problem" suddenly disappears. However, it's not going to fix itself if nobody cares or just ignores it a la DRM: "DRM sucks!" *buys ipod, iphone, Steam games because they're shiny and have auto-update*.

Re:Restoring the balance (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878561)

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

When IBM moved in, computers were an immature and small market.

Cellphones are already a mature and wildly successful market.
There is zero competitive force that will push them to standardize their connectors.

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878317)

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 the same charger so we wouldn't need to stock more than one kind. It took away a few options, but the bulk of the phones they were pushing used a micro-USB charger. (Or is it mini-USB? I can't remember which is which). Lazy manufacturers and angry customers seem to be bringing about convergence.

As for your claim that the cellphone industry would soar ahead if there was an ISO standard... The cellphone industry is still very much in a wild west environment right now. Lack of a standard charger hasn't really stopped anyone from buying a phone. There is plenty of incentive on the manufacturing front to create standards without intervention. Customers want things to just work and too many standards raises overhead. Given time, natural standards have, and will continue to, arise.

Re:Restoring the balance (1)

firewood (41230) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878473)

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,

That's right. Think how much better off we would be if the government standardized on the S-100 bus, CP/M, and Z80 CPUs for all future PCs. Or, for even more compatibility with all the existing software at the time, systems based on IBM's new 360-on-a-chip.

Sad! Another misplaced priority (1, Offtopic)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26877913)

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?

Re:Sad! Another misplaced priority (1)

Caboosian (1096069) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878023)

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 from your phone company, who often charge ridiculous prices for the things.

Personally, this is a problem I've wanted to see solved since I first began using cellular phones. It's just stupid that there isn't a standard for this.

Re:Sad! Another misplaced priority (4, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878143)

Hey man, I would like to open MS Office 2007 documents with any office suite of my choice with 100% fidelity. Got it?

Re:Sad! Another misplaced priority (1)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878027)

you are not unreasonable, you are off topic. standardized connectors are badly needed.

Re:Sad! Another misplaced priority (1)

discord5 (798235) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878067)

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

Re:Sad! Another misplaced priority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878115)

No.

But it's about votes. Everybody has a phone. Nobody has a file format. Really. Ask your neighbour.

USA Competition! (5, Insightful)

glassware (195317) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878013)

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:USA Competition! (2, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878121)

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.

Didn't China already do this? (1)

spyfrog (552673) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878133)

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?

Re:Didn't China already do this? - Yes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878227)

It's a way for the EU to get the same standard that the Chinese government forced the mobile industry to adopt into the EU

They need to do this for auto components (1, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878171)

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.

Longer life? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878173)

How would a standard connector promote longer life?

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

Re:Longer life? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878441)

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

When your ultra-proprietary custom charger breaks, if the phone is no longer a recent "hot" model the charger will no longer be available, you have to buy a new phone as you will never be able to charge your old phone again.

And believe me, the company knows this and encourages it.

Conflicted goals? (3, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Guenter is an attention whore (5, Interesting)

Kabada (1436459) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Too Bad (-1, Troll)

writerjosh (862522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878339)

It's too bad this EU guy wants to insist on regulation. They need to let the consumers decide, not the gov.

Let the best man (company) win. Don't stifle innovation with silly regulations.

Re:Too Bad (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26878393)

Indeed.

Cellphone Maker: But our product doesn't need a charger. It's magic.
Govmt: Sorry. It's the law.
CM: Seriously. There's no point.
G: It's the law.
CM: We can make them 1/10th the size and cost without a charger port.
G: It's the law.

The Nokia connector (2)

Zouden (232738) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Buying adapters separately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878501)

if this did happen, then it could also mean that mobile phones wouldn't have to be sold with a charger. Instead, the consumer could just buy a charger separately if they need one, and this probably wouldn't be the case for most people since they'd already have a charger from a previous mobile. In turn, this would lead to reduced costs for shipping mobile phones. Imagine the savings!

Fail2ors!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26878535)

You. The tir3less are inherently
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