microUSB to Become Industry Standard Mobile Connector
News.com is reporting on the recent announcement that the members of the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) have agreed to settle on microUSB as a common, industry-standard mobile phone connector. The consortium is comprised of both operators and handset manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG. These companies have agreed to bypass the current mini-USB standard in favor of its smaller successor, microUSB. Mini USB has been employed by numerous devices on the market over the past several years but was truly popularized by Motorola’s iconic RAZR V3 handset of 2004 yet has failed to approach industry-wide adoption. In addition, manufacturers such as Apple and Motorola have employed lock-out chips designed to cripple functionality from unlicensed or unofficial accessories.
Palm's name has not been mentioned in conjunction with the announcement, as it seems to reflect more on the state of small, high-volume feature phones (primarily the global GSM format) where connector size is of the upmost importance. The pricier, larger and more specialized smartphones produced by Palm, RIM, Apple, and others have a much smaller user base that is generally less price sensitive and less likely to clamor about a unified connector method. In fact, many programmable devices such as Palm’s Treo would see a reduction in functionality with the loss of a proprietary connector. Larger PDA-style smartphones often enjoy various additional functionality (audio video input and output, serial connectivity etc) enabled via their proprietary connectors. Many of these manufacturers (think Apple) would be loathe to abandon their high-margin accessory business with a surprisingly large number of users upset at having to replace or lose legacy functionality from carryover adapters and cables from previous generations. Palm’s “Athena” connector, for example, first appeared on the Tungsten T5 in 2004 and is present on the new Centro smartphone, having appeared on ten additional in the interim.
Palm has also used mini-USB connectors across its lower-end PDA models on and off for a number of years. The trend began with 2002’s original Zire and continued with the Zire 21, Tungsten E, Zire 72, Zire 31, and the current Z22 handheld. Additionally, Palm surprisingly returned to the miniUSB connector with last month’s GSM Treo 500v.
However, Palm has returned to its conventional “Athena” multi-connector standard plug on the new Centro smartphone, announced last week for the Sprint CDMA network. Adding to the confusion is a report from the TreoCentral forums from TC member Howiecam who has supposedly spent time with the Verizon version of the Treo 800w. The user reports that the 800w employs a new proprietary Palm sync/charge port standard.
While consumer confusion is certain to be minimized by the widespread adoption of the new OMTP charger standard, the article also hints at the possibility that a new AC charger need not be included with every single mobile device, thereby reducing both manufacter cost, packaging size, and numerous environmental factors. It will be interesting to see if consumer concern for bottom line pricing and the environment trumps the convenience factor of always being assured another AC charger with each new mobile device.
Article Comments(17 comments)
- I got one -Tuckermaclain
- RE: Don't we have this already? -Tuckermaclain
- RE: Palm brand will return in 2018, with devices built by TCL -richf
- RE: Palm brand will return in 2018, with devices built by TCL -dmitrygr
- Palm phone on HDblog -palmato
- Palm PVG100 -hgoldner
- RE: Like Deja Vu -PacManFoo
- Like Deja Vu -T_W