A good example of when having an international body override market forces works rather well

As Gizmodo points out:

It seems pretty fashionable to whine about the EU nowadays, but while it agricultural subsidies might need a little re-thinking, there’s one thing it’s done right for humanity: the forced adoption of micro-USB, the best thing to happen to smartphones in the last five years…

[It used to be] every time you got a new phone: sorry bud, go buy a new load of accessories. Want to listen to headphones? Well, you’ll probably have to use the crappy pieces of plastic that came with your handset, since a fair few phones back then didn’t have a 3.5mm jack port. And charging off your computer? Forget it, dude…

Mercifully, someone took note. The EU, doing its standard thing of finding problems to fix, decided that the waste endemic in the system (due to all those discarded chargers) was environmentally bad, and well, you can’t really argue with the environment.

So. In 2009, the European Commission (and I quote) “gave the mobile phone industry an ultimatum to voluntarily adopt common standards” for phone chargers. [Emphasis added]. Laughter at the EU aside, it actually worked.

Apple has continued to do their own things, so we’ve ended up with more like a choice of two standards rather than one uniform one. It’s still a massive leap forward from where we were – making things far easier for the consumer, helping cut waste and creating a market for a whole set of products which rely on the same sockets working across multiple manufacturers, such as light recharging units designed for travellers with multiple gadgets.

This time around, it was Brussels Bureaucrats 1, Free Market 0.


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