Prior to the signature of the MoU in 2009, mobile phones were mostly only compatible with chargers that had proprietary charging connections between the device and the charger, i.e. they could only be charged using specific chargers. It was estimated that at this time there were more than 30 different types of chargers on the market (RPA, 2014).
As a result of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), mobile phone manufacturers adopted a common specification based on the USB 2.0 Micro B (Micro-USB) or compatible adaptors for those phones that did not have a Micro-USB interface. The MoU was later extended by two letters of intent.
Following the expiry of the MoU in 2014, the European Commission started fostering a new voluntary agreement and on 20 March 2018, it received a new voluntary agreement from mobile phone manufacturers, which declared their intention to “continue to enable smartphones to be charged through a common charging interface”. However, the European Commission refused to endorse the MoU, stating that it did not “guarantee full interoperability between mobile phones … as proprietary solutions were proposed together with the previous USB 2.0 Micro B and the new USB Type C solutions.” Owing to this, the Commission has initiated preparatory steps for potential regulatory action. DIGITALEUROPE and the Mobile & Wireless Forum retained RPA to conduct this Common Charger 2.0 study.
The aim of the study is to generate data and analysis that can input into the discussions on a common charger. This comprises three specific objectives:
conduct a market analysis from 2014 until now;
forecast the uptake of the different wired charging solutions over the next 5 years; and
compare several policy scenarios (the MoU and a regulatory option), including their cost-effectiveness, impacts on consumers, the industry, and the environment.
YouGov consumer survey
Within the framework of this study, a consumer survey was carried out by YouGov in May and June 2019. A total of 6,120 responses were received from 12 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain (between 486 and 568 responses were received from each country).
The results were adjusted to ensure the representativeness of respondents within their own country in terms of age, gender and region, specific weighting has been applied. The statistics on the basis of which the weighting has been done come from Eurostat. Additional weighting has been applied to account for differences in population of the different countries.
Structure of the report
This report is organised as follows:
Section 2 summarises the current situation (including key market developments since 2014);
Section 3 estimates future market developments;
Section 4 assesses the scale of any ‘problem’ in terms of lack of charging interoperability and Section 5 sets out the potential policy options that could address it;
Section 6 assesses the impacts of these policy options on consumers, Section 7 on safety and innovation, Section 8 on economic operators and Section 9 on the environment; and
Section 10 provides a summary of the key impacts;
Section 11 summarises the key issues with regard to a potential extension of any requirements to other mobile devices.