O2 will launch a new handset later in 2012, sold without a charger. The HTC phone will come only with a USB to Micro-USB cable in an attempt to reduce the vast number of phone chargers that become obsolete or otherwise unused each year. Of the 30 million phones sold in the UK each year, 70% of buyers already own a compatible charger for their new handset. As a result over 100 million chargers remain unused.
The move has been made possible by the prevalence of the micro USB charger. Ten mobile phone manufacturers made a commitment 3 years ago to work towards a micro USB-based, universal charger. Although progress has been slow, with Apple appearing to have abandoned its commitment altogether with the recent introduction of the ‘Lightning’ charger standard for its iPhone 5 range, many phones do now use micro USB chargers.
O2 has promised to sell anyone who wants one a charger to go with the new phone at cost price, just £3.50, a move Apple could learn from following anger at its price of $30 for an adaptor to switch from the previous iPhone connector to the new Lightning version.
Ronan Dunne, O2’s chief executive, said: “Right now, O2 with HTC has to go it alone on this matter – we both believe in it passionately enough that we can’t wait for the industry as a whole to join us in this crusade. The environmental cost of multiple and redundant chargers is enormous and I believe that, as the mobile phone has become more prevalent, we as retailers and manufacturers have an ever-greater responsibility to be a more sustainable industry.”
Phil Roberson, UK head of HTC, said: “A unified approach across all manufacturers and retailers would dramatically decrease the industry’s carbon footprint, not only in terms of manufacturing but also packaging and transport.”