Universal cell phone chargers coming soon

Finally, the mobile industry will provide a single cell-phone charger that will work with any phone.

Update: This story has been updated to clarify that Apple was not named in the list of handset makers that have agreed to use a new universal charger standard.

BARCELONA--After I've spent years scrounging through drawers looking for the right charger and kicking myself every time I forgot my charger while traveling, the mobile industry has finally decided to make one device that can juice up any cell phone.

The Micro-USB connector used on this Motorola cell phone charger will soon be the standard for all chargers. Motorola

On Tuesday, the GSMA trade association announced at its 2009 Mobile World Congress here that it has brokered a deal with the world's leading handset makers to come up with a standard for charging cell phones.

All the major handset makers, including, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson, have agreed to use the Micro-USB technology as the common universal charging interface, Rob Conway, GSMA CEO, said during the opening keynote speech Tuesday. By 2012, the GSMA promises, most cell phones will use the same kind of connector to charge their batteries.

Seventeen mobile operators, including Vodafone, Orange, and Telofonic, announced they are committed to implementing the standard for the universal mobile phone charger.

The GSMA said that going to this single standard will not only make life easier for the more than 3 billion mobile phone users in the world today, but it will also help the environment.

Conway said that the GSMA will push cell phone manufacturers to develop chargers that consume about 50 percent less power. The organization also believes that eliminating the need for people to replace lost chargers will significantly reduce greenhouse gases emitted in the manufacturing and transporting of these extra chargers. It will also mean less waste in landfills because people won't simply throw away chargers when they stop using their old phones.

All in all, it's huge win for the planet and for me--the consumer. It's such a no-brainer. It makes you wonder why no one thought of this sooner.

UPDATE: One mobile phone maker is conspicuously missing from the GSMA's list of partners: Apple, maker of the popular iPhone. It shouldn't come as a shock that Apple isn't following the rest of the industry on this one, considering that the company has been marching to the beat of its own drummer in mobile from the beginning.

The good news for iPhone users has always been that the connector that's used to recharge the device is the same one used for some Apple iPods. But annoyingly many iPod docking stations and accessories made by third parties for previous generations of iPods don't work with the iPhone.