Having to rely on some weird proprietary charger every time you get a new cellphone is a thing of the past, at least if you live in Europe. As of next year, every new cellphone in Europe will have to be able to charge via micro-USB. Finally.
Two European electronics standardization bodies, following a mandate from the European Commission, have published specs detailing how data-enabled phones made by different manufacturers should all be using the same basic micro-USB charger starting next year. This is the end result of a voluntary plan agreed to by a whole host of cellphone manufacturers back in 2009, including most of the big names like Apple, Nokia, Qualcomm, RIM, LG, Motorola, and Samsung.
Charger standardization is great for consumers, because we won't have to keep buying new chargers at ridiculous markups, and it's great for the environment, because we won't have to keep throwing those same chargers away whenever we get a new phone. Ugh, I keep saying 'we' and then I remember I live in the US where these rules don't apply. Lame.
It's also worth noting that one of the first companies to agree to this standard was Apple, who has a history of making everything as proprietary as possible. And from the sound of things, it won't be able to just include a USB adapter to keep its promise, it'll actually have to put a USB port on the device itself, so that might be something to look forward to on the iPhone 5. Or the European version of the iPhone 5, at least.