Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Give Me Back My Sanity!

I frown at the maze of chargers sprawling on the floor and I think I am going insane.

When I first moved into this apartment years ago, I was impressed by the generous provision of power socket points. I supposed that was when I compared it to my old apartment.

Today, I see a sorry sight.

Each power socket point is bursting with extension cord and adapters. Each extended point is constantly plugged with an endless array of electronic gadgets that wail "feed me, feed me! My batt is flat!"

One of the culprits got to be the mobile phones although the list of hungry gadget is rather long.

Thanks to their selfishness, mobile phone manufacturers make chargers that work only for their own devices. To make matter worse, some mobile phones from the same maker cannot share the same charger. Each model comes with it's own charger and that is really disgusting!

The end result: every mobile phone user in the household will be constantly looking for a feeding station for their mobile phones. Typically, everyone would have one or more mobile phones and sharing the same charger is rarely possible.

It gets worse when we travel, especially when mobile phone is not the only gadget to pack along.

What are these people thinking?? Do they think it is fun to lug a suitcase of chargers and adapters wherever we go? Or is this just a case of selfishness disguised behind the proprietary use of each manufacturer's accessories?

From time to time, we see gadget makers selling their products screaming features which help in mobility and portability. They boast about the light weight. They show off the slimness of the sleek build. They make the gadgets smaller and more powerful. They sell gorgeous bags that help carry the gadgets around town... And yet, they expect you to have a separate luggage just to house tons of power cables and adapters for the galore of gadgets most of us have today.

This is really nuts! We are the 21st Century slaves, shackled to these gizmos which are supposed to slave for us. Not the other way round.

I have been asking a simple question: Why can't all the gadgets share one common charger? I am sure it is technologically possible even though it might not be a commercially conducive idea. I do not believe no one has given such feedback to the manufacturers. All we need is a big push from a market leader for this to happen.

For now, my prayer is partially answered.

In Sep 2007, the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) industry forum announced that its members had decided on Micro-USB as a common charger-interface standard. OMTP is a forum of mobile network operators who come together to discuss standards with manufacturers for mobile devices.

By 2012, more than half of the new mobile phones will be able to be charged using a single charger. With 17 manufacturers and operators participating in this initiatives, most of mobile phones will finally be relieved of the burden of proprietary chargers.

Companies signed up to the initiative include Nokia, Motorola, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, 3, Telefónica and Vodafone. I expect more to be coming on board. For example HTC has committed that they will also join in the initiative even though they are currently not among the 17. Well, Apple is conspicuously missing from the list.

I hope this spells the ending of an era with a drawer full of old phone chargers. At the same time, it is probably the beginning of a new era where more 'one-size-fits-all" chargers will be introduced to other devices such as notebooks.

Let's say bye bye to the ridiculous idea of a 'mobile phone charging station'. The world should be more mobile and free from the entanglement of wires! Besides, the new initiative has more environmental advantages. The new chargers are supposed to be more energy efficient and there will be less wastage from obsolete chargers.

Universal charger...I can't wait.

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