Coming Soon: Universal Phone Chargers

The mobile phone industry promised Monday to standardize phone chargers by 2012 at a trade association meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Most major handset manufacturers agreed to this, except for Apple.

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Let's say you're on that town hall teleconference on your cell phone, your battery is dying, and you can't find your charger. What to do? Borrow one from somebody else? Well, you need the exact charger designed for your phone. Now, you may have experienced frustration like that, and you may remember that Martha Stewart experienced that frustration, too. At the Wall Street Journal's digital conference, a couple years back, she hauled a shopping bag up to Howard Stringer. He's the CEO of Sony.

NORRIS: Then I added all these. Now, I have my phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: This little connector is exactly the same as this little connector, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: But if I plug this little one...

NORRIS: Check, check please.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

NORRIS: Well, now comes relief. In Barcelona yesterday, a trade association that includes cell-phone manufacturers made a big announcement. Maggie Reardon writes for the Web site CNET.

NORRIS: They have brokered a deal with some major handset makers, including LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. And they've all agreed to use the same standard technology for their cell-phone chargers.

NORRIS: Yes, that's right - a plan to make one charger work with almost any cell phone. Manufacturers say it's good for the consumer and the environment.

NORRIS: They want phone manufacturers to develop chargers that are going to consume 50 percent less power.

NORRIS: So, maybe old chargers won't sit in landfills. And fewer chargers means fewer factories, so less greenhouse gas. But Maggie Reardon noted who was not at that conference.

NORRIS: Apple was conspicuously missing.

NORRIS: The iPhone maker still has time to join in. The new standard goes into effect in 2012.

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