It is surely high time for the uni­fi­ca­tion of charg­ers

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - ByWUYUNHE

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween a smart­phone and its charger is akin to fish and wa­ter.

A fish left out of wa­ter will die, and so it is with a phone or any other elec­tronic de­vice, if it finds it­self with­out what it needs to sur­vive.

I only thought of the anal­ogy re­cently when I tookmy fam­ily on a trip toHokaido in Ja­pan.

Pack­ing our bags, I had to find space for four dif­fer­ent charg­ers and their ac­com­pa­ny­ing wires and plugs: formy iPhone 4, a por­ta­ble charger or charge pal, my Wi-Fi router and a cam­era.

Be­causemy wife uses aNokia E71, she too had her own charger, and of course, my daugh­ter’s iPhone 5 and its charge pal needed to be brought.

To­gether that is seven dif­fer­ent charg­ers and a hor­ri­ble tan­gle of wires and clumsy plugs. So it got me think­ing, “this is crazy”.

We now de­pend daily on so many elec­tronic items, but it’s only worth bring­ing them along if we have the right charger with us and can be sure of find­ing a charg­ing socket.

When we ar­rived at Bei­jing air­port, of course, all of them had to be un­packed and passed through se­cu­rity, but ir­ri­tat­ingly all the wires were in a ball inmy back­pack, and had to be re­sorted. The glow­er­ing se­cu­rity guards stared at me as I strug­gled to get our elec­tronic gear out and checked.

It must surely be one of the great con­flicts of mod­ern life, cer­tainly for ev­ery­one who ever has to travel through an in­ter­na­tional air­port: the con­ve­nience of de­vices against the has­sle of car­ry­ing the charg­ers needed to keep them alive.

So please ad­dmy name to the grow­ing list of peo­ple now de­mand­ing a uni­fied sys­tem of charg­ers and power points. It surely makes sense from a busi­ness point of view, and en­vi­ron­men­tally.

Ac­cord­ing to theMin­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, the num­ber of Chi­nese mo­bile phone users hit a record 1.29 bil­lion in­March this year. These mil­lions, es­pe­cially younger peo­ple, are up­dat­ing their hand­set mod­els at least ev­ery two years.

This on­go­ing ap­petite for the very latest, of course, is ac­com­pa­nied by a swelling de­mand for mo­bile phone charg­ers— they are lost of­ten, or bro­ken and have to be re­placed— and just think of the grow­ing energy con­sump­tion and emis­sions.

Wang Xin, my for­mer col­league who now works in the public re­la­tions in­dus­try in Shang­hai, for ex­am­ple, tells me he bought his first Nokia mo­bile in the late 1990s and has since bought five more, the latest an iPhone 6 Plus, but each needed dif­fer­ent charg­ers.

A re­cent re­port on Ten­cent News claimed that more than 100 mil­lion old smart­phones were dis­carded by their Chi­nese own­ers last year as they bought new­mod­els.

Along with each newsale came a newcharger and its plug, and of­ten head­phones.

The re­port claimed, quite rightly, that phones and their ac­com­pa­ny­ing ac­ces­sories now ac­count for a ris­ing per­cent­age of waste in China.

This ob­ses­sion for up­date and re­place­ment of phones is cre­at­ing a moun­tain of un­used items, which is get­ting out of con­trol.

All of the ma­jor pro­duc­ers pre­ciously hold onto their own mo­bile phone charg­ing in­ter­faces, sock­ets and plugs be­cause these add-ons have be­come a ma­jor profit con­trib­u­tor to over­all in­come.

Back in June 2007 the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment urged pro­duc­ers to come up with a stan­dard for all charg­ers sold in the mar­ket. It was only an in­dus­try rec­om­men­da­tion, how­ever, not manda­tory.

But with our grow­ing aware­ness of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, the con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment in China’s busi­ness reg­u­la­tions, and the im­prove­ments be­ing made in stan­dard­iz­ing so many ar­eas of in­dus­try, it is surely time now for the author­i­ties to re-ad­dress the is­sue, and make man­u­fac­tur­ers sit down to­gether and unify their charg­ers.

Con­tact the writer at wuyunhe@chi­


A model demon­strates an iPhone 5 and a mo­bile charger at an ex­po­si­tion in Bei­jing.

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