Gadget litter: it's the greed of tech companies that fills our drawers with outdated plugs

Now that you can charge your phone wirelessly there's really no need for Apple to release a new dock connecter.

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The Independent Online

With the new iPhone comes a brand new Apple dock connecter. Yet another adapter designed to join the ranks of dozens more that clutter our drawers and cupboards, but why do we need all these different variations on a single concept? At the end of the day, they all end up in a box of obsolete cables and chargers, destined for landfill sites across the world. Is this really the best way we can move forward in a world where recyclability and environmental awareness is of paramount importance?

With every passing month we are introduced to new methods of communicating with our mobile devices, thanks to the power of WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G/4G networks. We can even power our devices through inductive charging Technologies, just look at the latest Nokia Lumia 920 or Samsung Galaxy S III smartphones for proof. If we can do everything we need without wires, then why are the likes of Apple and other manufacturers still developing their own proprietary technologies for connecting to our portable computers and phones.

At the end of the day it all boils down to two things: differentiating products and making as much money from a single product as possible.

Despite Apple’s claims that they are an environmentally conscious company, they still develop adapters, converters and extensions at highly inflated prices, which their web site and physical store employees can upsell to customers, further increasing the profits they make per device. This is good for their swelling bank account, but very bad for the environment and shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age. We have enough wireless technology at our fingertips to reduce the required cables down to just a few standards compliant options, we just need to enforce the required standards more aggressively. Two European standards bodies tried to make Micro-USB the standard for all mobile phones and yet they still bowed to pressure from Apple and cleared the ‘dock connector’ for use in Europe. Ridiculous.

The fact of the matter is, I don’t even need to plug my phone or tablet into my computer to transfer files or update software these days. Everything can be achieved over wireless networks. All I ever need to use my phone’s USB port for is to charge the device at night. So why do companies persist with proprietary connectors when we have USB standard that can cater for everything we need, without the need for wasted cables and additional non-essential costs for consumers?

I can understand that companies such as Apple wish to protect the technology they invent, in order to prevent competitors from adopting concepts they have spent time and money researching and developing, but there a certain areas where industry standards should be enforced. And one of these should be mobile charger technology.