The ZX Series of Micro-USB connectors by Hirose provide a good idea of how the standard looks.  (Source: Hirose)
Relief from the tangled mess that is the cell phone charger market today is finally in sight

Last week a group of power players in the mobile phone manufacturing industry gathered to discuss the future of phone charging and data exchange.  The Open Mobile Terminal Platform boasted such manufacturing leaders as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG.

The decision they reached in this meeting will have a significant effect on cell phone users worldwide. 

The companies reached an agreement to put an end to the mess of incompatible proprietary power connectors that has plagued the cell phone industry for years.  The companies agreed to adopt a new USB standard called Micro-USB: a shrunk-down portable version of the USB 2.0 standard.

Micro-USB is smaller and thinner than Mini-USB which many cell phones currently support.  The standard was develop early this year and introduced by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the group responsible for new USB standards.

Market analysts state that the chief negative impact of this decision will mainly effect the cell phone manufacturers who agreed to it--possible decreased accessory sales, which have typically be boosted by manufacturers utilizing incompatible proprietary chargers and connectors.  With the new standard, consumers will no longer have to purchase a new charger if they simply get a phone by a different maker.  They will be able to use their old charger with their new phone, until a new standard is adopted.

Companies do stand to gain, though, because they will no longer have to pay for part of the user disposal and recycling fees for chargers as certain environmental laws worldwide have forced them to do in the past.  New phones will be compatible will old chargers, so consumers can keep them.  The European Union's WEEE directive had forced cell phone manufacturers to pay part of these costs.

Another financial benefit for the cell phone companies is that they won't have to include a charger with phones they sell, possibly cutting a major cost.  This will in turn allow for smaller, lighter phone boxes, which will cost less to ship and store.

To give an idea of the average specs of a Micro-USB connection, Hirose, a major manufacture provides the following the following information on their ZX series Micro-USB design:
Durability of 10, 000 cycles (mating/un-mating), extraction force of 8N (initial and after cycling), contact resistance of 30m Ohms (initial, 10m Ohms rise max. after cycling) is only an example of the ZX connector performance levels.
The biggest winner in this long coming development is the consumer, who will no longer have to worry about proprietary connectors and will be free to use old connectors or their friends connectors.

The move won't change anything overnight, as it will likely be first implemented in next year's cell phone designs.  However, the decision to commit to an industry wide adoption of a compatible Micro-USB standard promises to eventually fundamentally change a major aspect of the cell phone industry.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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