As we say goodbye to 2010, the European Union says goodbye to un-standardized phone chargers. It's been over a year in the making, but microUSB will be the standard charger plug for European mobile phones starting next year.
The European Union first announced their plans in June last year and major phone manufacturers quickly signed the memorandum. A few others signed later on.
Currently the list includes: Nokia, Apple, Samsung, LG, RIM, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Huawei, Alcatel, NEC, Emblaze, and chip makers Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Atmel. This covers the majority of phones you'd care to buy.
Convenience is one thing to look forward to. No more carrying several chargers for each device - just one will do (or even a microUSB cable and a computer). The switch to the microUSB standard has environmental benefits as well, as each year 4,000 tons of old, incompatible accessories get thrown out after the user upgrades.
The first phones complying with the new standard are expected to come out early next year. Of course, many phones already use microUSB for charging but from now on, if you buy a new phone from one of the signatory manufacturers you'll be guaranteed that it will charge off microUSB.
In Europe anyway. But we're hoping that the phone makers will use the standard globally rather than create Europe-specific versions with microUSB.