One plug to rule them all

Mobiles to adopt single connection standard, eventually, possibly


The Open Mobile Terminal Alliance (OMTP) has published a recommendation paper suggesting that mobile phone manufacturers all use micro USB connectors to charge, and connect, their handsets.

The recommendation document - available as a PDF file here - suggests that mini USB, the connector already being used on many devices, might be OK in the short term, but that everyone should migrate to micro USB real soon now, and that both data transfer and charging should take place over the same cable.

The OMTP is a network operator talking-shop - producing documents for phone manufacturers that explain what operators would like to see in handsets. Phone manufacturers can sign up as 'advisors', and both Nokia and Ericsson are 'sponsors', but the membership is limited to network operators.

Obviously everyone would love to see all mobiles using the same charging and data connections, but telling a manufacturer that they can't make a phone 2mm thick becasue the 'industry standard' plug won't connect is less easy.

Handset designers tend to have their own ideas about what matters, and as the majority of handsets are sold on their stylish appearance, what the designer says generally goes. The fact that the standard stereo headphone socket is lacking on the vast majority of handsets, even music-based ones, is indicative of how cavalier manufacturers can be with standards when it comes to shaving a few millimetres off the case.

Proposing a standard will get the OMTP lots of good press, and everyone will say what a good idea it is, but next time a designer comes up with eye-candy that needs a proprietary connector the manufacturers will drop the "standard" like a stone. ®

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