Saturday, 21 February 2009

As the dust settles, part 3: back in the real world

In amongst the industry hob-nobbing over the last week there was one announcement that will change the mobile experience for everyone. I'm talking about the GSMA announcement of a Universal Charging Solution (UCS). It's not the most eye-catching of announcements. Prosaic almost. But in terms of changing the experience of the average user it will be by far the biggest announcement at the show. While few average punters out there in mobile-land will be making use of LTE, app stores or watch phones, everyone needs juice.

Whether this was sparked by Chinese government mandate and thus de facto global dominance is a moot point. The important thing is that the GSMA announcement actually represents a positive change to everyday use of mobile, which is exactly the kind of thing the GSMA should be about. It also gives a fillip to new handset market entrants seeking to displace vendors such as Nokia, SonyEricsson, Samsung and LG. Standardised chargers mean fewer barriers to churning between vendors. It also effectively mandates much greater energy efficiency making mobile, yet again, one of the leading industries in considering environmental impact. Doesn't it make you proud?

The only cloud on the horizon is that the wording allows the vendors some slack "The group agreed that by the 1st January 2012, the majority of all new mobile phone models available will support a universal charging connector". Could it be that vendors will introduce UCS chargers for all devices in particular territories, e.g. emerging markets, but maintain their own proprietary versions in more developed markets, e.g. for smartphones. Let's hope not. Even if they do, UCS at least gives all the competing new entrants a standard on which to converge.

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