The International Electronics Commission, IEC, has recently announced that micro USB will be the universal mobile phone charging standard used. The surprise here is that Apple, known for pushing its own standards, is throwing its support behind the micro USB charging push.
Having a common charging standard will be beneficial for the environment as the same charger can be used as a user upgrades between different phones. Rather than dumping an old charger in a landfill, old chargers can be re-used or passed on and can find new purpose. According to the IEC:
“We all have drawers full of chargers that became obsolete as soon as we buy a new phone. Today, we have a truly operational global standard that will allow the industry to end this waste and significantly reduce environmental impact. This is something millions of consumers have been waiting for. I am proud that the IEC has managed to get the best possible technical solution in record time to the market.”
While the move is ecologically sound, it goes against Apple’s current business strategy of charging a licensing fee for its proprietary dock connectors. Third-party accessory makers who want to enter the iPhone, iPod, or iPad ecosystem would have to pay Apple a royalty for utilizing the dock connector in products such as speakers and docks.
However, the move to have a universal micro USB standard may not preempt Apple from continuing to deploy products with a dock connector. Apple may add micro USB as a charging solution, but may still utilize its dock connector to connect to third-party accessories like speakers and docks. That will allow users to more easily find chargers while on the road, but still allow Apple to profit from and provide a rich third-party hardware ecosystem that integrates with its mobile device.
Recent news of Apple backing the micro USB charging solution may help lend credibility to rumors of a second-generation iPad supporting a micro USB port.