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Apple absent from universal phone charger push

Although AT&T and several other iPhone partners joined an industry initiative to standardize mobile phone chargers over the next few years, Apple has yet to follow suit and may remain committed to its proprietary dock-connector interface .

The GSMA and 17 mobile operators plan to develop a universal charging solution that would appear by January 1, 2012. Micro-USB will be the common charging interface.

The group includes AT&T, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Orange, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile, and Vodafone. According to the GSMA, which represents the interests of GSM operators, the change would make things simpler for the consumer, who could use the same charger with all future phones and charge anywhere with any available unit.

The chargers will boast a 4-star or higher efficiency rating in order to be three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger and consume 50% less stand-by energy. The GSMA estimates greenhouse gas reduction by 13.6 to 21.8 million metric tons as the replacement rate for existing chargers decreases.

Noticeably absent from the list of supporters is Apple. Its ubiquitous dock connector was introduced on the third-generation iPod in 2003 and has appeared on every iPod and iPhone since. By the time of the 2012 deadline, the dock connector will have been around for almost a decade.

In a possible nod to the iPhone's exemption, the GSMA targets only "majority" adoption by 2012. The BBC notes that the move may be a response to pressure from the European Commission, which has observed more than 30 different kinds of chargers in use across the European Union.