Another phone thing Europeans do better

They get to throw old phone cords away first

For years those namby pamby Europeans have been able to scoff openly at U.S. cell phone hardware, networks and customers. In the U.S. we pay too much for service, get locked in to one carrier for years at a time and couldn't get any really cool phones until the iPhone showed we would pay even more for dubious-quality phones and services if they look cool while failing to work.

Now of course, we can get touch-screen phones good enough that anyone with child-sized fingers can type on them and high-functioning Android devices like the HTC EVO and Motorola Droid X that are almost small enough to carry without hernia insurance.

What we can't do is get close enough to a standard plug to charge all those giant phones that we don't have to buy adapters and converters and new (hideously overpriced) cords.

In 2011, the International Telecommunications Union -- the phone manufacturer's association -- agreed to standardize on Micro-USBs, but the majority of phones in the U.S. won't ship with them until 2012, according to the GSM Association.

Most European phone makers also agreed to use chargers based on Micro-USB plugs. The European Commission is a little more serious about standards, though.

The EC standards bodies released their version of the specification today, and expect manufacturers to standardize on the new plug right away, which means European geeks will be able to throw out their huge pile of old phone-charger cords before we'll be able to. Dammit.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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