Universal Charger Initiative Announced... Absent iPhone

No sooner did we ask you if Apple should ditch the dock, than Apple Insider reports that the mobile phone and smartphone industries are beginning to come together on a universal charging solution, and that solution is micro-USB.

So far, early signees for the 2012 initiative include AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. Several iPhone carriers there, but not the single iPhone creator, Apple.

Of course, Apple and their licensees have invested heavily in the proprietary 30-pin dock connector, so we have to ask: facing a micro-USB standard, will that be an increasing competitive advantage, or a growing problem?

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Universal Charger Initiative Announced... Absent iPhone

9 Comments

i don't see it as a problem, all car manufactures have now 30 pin connector, ipod is defacto standard, it is much easier to carry around just two cables one microUSB and iphone :)

I'd just assume that Apple stick with the 30 pin that they have been using with iPods since the beginning. There's a legacy of accessories (including cars!) that now offer this connector. Meanwhile, it is nice to see all of the old school cell phone manufactures getting their stuff together under the UCI.

the actual connector isn't that big an issue. if forced by EU law, apple can always just ship iPods and iPhones with 30pin to miniUSB adapters, or switch over to miniUSB and provide dock adapters for vehicles and accessories built to the 30pin 'standard'.
the bigger issue is that Apple currently restricts which accessories can actually interact with their devices, extracting royalties from those that do. even if Apple puts out a 30pin to miniUSB adapter or switched to miniUSB it wouldn't mean much, because they still would control which devices and accessories would work with the iPod/phone.
The shape of the connector is practically irrelevant. The issue is whether accessories need to "sign in" or not, and whether Apple is going to give up their royalty collection business on accessories without the EU forcing them to.

I actually thought it was great to keep the dock connector. I have several iPod cables I can use now because of it. I won't mind it being kept.

Sting7K: exactly. Apple won't change their proprietary charging port. Period. The only way they would is if were forced by EU. Then they would still put up this bitchy fight. All-in-all I like the 30-pin butmicro USB is still better. I previously owned a G1 (ughh) and one if the only things I liked was that no matter where I could charge my phone without having to buy expensive car or wall chargers. But this is another reason apple wouldn't approve this: it would serve them barely any revenue. Everyone owns a standard mini-USB (I hope) so buying a second would make no sense.

Why would Apple want to make all existing accessories and older iPods incompatible with new iPods! They'll keep the dock connector I suspect. It's likely any future changes from Apple would simply be to wireless, and they'll keep the dock connector until that became more common.

The EU has decided that per 2012 all mobile phones should be able to be charged with one adapter: an adapter with standard micro usb that uses standard usb voltage (5V).
As the iphone allready charges with 5v from USB, I suppose all Apple needs to do is supply a 30 pin dock to micro usb adapter.
Apple will not get rid of the 30 pin dock connector. That would render ALL ipod and iphone accessories.