Apple has always been famous for doing its own thing, very rarely caring what the competition is doing, preferring to lead the pack instead of following it. However, when you have the European Union telling you how something is going to be, and you want to be able to continue to sell your device there, well, at that point, even Steve Jobs has to listen.
Last year the European Union started pushing for cell phone manufactures to adopt a universal charger standard that would see all phones using the Micro-USB connector across all the various manufacturers.
The reasoning behind this move was that it was estimated that cell phones using different chargers produces around 51,000 tons in waste per year. Each time you get a new cell phone you need a new charger, a new car charger and so on, and your old one would usually just get tossed out. With the adoption of Micro-USB as the universal format this means that all of your cables will be interchangeable, and if you should go away on a trip and forget your cable, no worries, you’ll be able to pick one up anywhere that sells phones, even if it isn’t your carrier.
Surprisingly, and making headlines at the time, when the plan was agreed to in June 2009, Apple agreed to be included. The reason this was so shocking is that Apple has always gone with its own connectors, and this will mean a redesign of the iPhone’s physical body, something Apple has never done for anyone.
Will this translate to the United States version of the iPhone? While nothing is definite, it seems probable that it will. It would be quite expensive to design two bodies, manufacture different cables for different companies and so on. The smarter thing to do will be just to switch them all over to the Micro-USB system and be done with it.
The European Union calls for the change to happen by 2012, so there is a chance it may still be a generation or two before we see Apple make the switch over, but the odds are that this is indeed going to happen, and that should be cause for rejoicing next time you lose a cable.