Friday, 20 December 2013

A Single European Battery Charger - A Great Idea?

The EUSSR is alive and kicking:

Mobile phone makers will have to provide a standard battery charger that can fit any device, including smart phones, under a provisional deal on a new EU law reached on Thursday.
Provided the outline agreement gets endorsement from the European Parliament and EU member states, it would be implemented in around 2017, EU officials said.

If you think that is a great idea, think again:

no doubt a case could be made for it being a sensible idea. If we all have the same charger then we can use any charger: we’re not tied to one from the manufacturer of our particular phone.

However, there is a very large and incorrect assumption here. That technology is static. Something that simply isn’t true about technology of course.
For what is being assumed here is that by 2017 we’ll have the finest form of phone charger that we’ll ever have and that we can all standardise on just that one design. But, and here’s the catch, if we all standardise on that one design we’ll not have the market experimentation that provides us with those incremental improvements from innovation. For by standardising on one design we’ve made it impossible for anyone to experiment with that design. We have, in fact, set phone charging technology in stone and ensured that it will never change or advance.
And that’s not actually a very good idea. But then you weren’t expecting good ideas from the EU, were you?

Instead of innovation, the EU will probably end up with The European Centre for Battery Charger Standardisation Affairs (ECBCSA), with a few hundred bureaucrats toiling in a building just a little bit tinier than the new ECB skyscraper. The competition among member countries over who will get the new centre has probably already started.

Germany lost the bid for hosting the UN Green Climate Fund Headquarters. Maybe Angela Merkel will now submit the same design with "rooftop gardens" and a "sunken terrace restaurant" for the ECBCSA? :-)

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