Here's some fantastic news: The Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) group has decided to standardize on micro-USB as the charging interface for mobile phones, putting an end to the needless waste created by needing separate chargers for each device. The OMTP includes Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG, and Nokia—that's a majority of the GSM phone market right there, which will hopefully force any stragglers to join up. (Although I don't think we'll be seeing Apple ditching their plug for the iPhone any time soon.)
Most interesting to me was how environmental legislation in the EU may have been a factor in making the choice:
However, [telecom analyst Dean Bubley] also suggested that having a standard connector might be in manufacturers' best interests due to environmental reasons. The EU's WEEE directive makes manufacturers responsible for some of the costs associated with recycling their equipment, and a broadly applied standard could remove the need for a new charger to be distributed with every phone or accessory.
"This is cheaper to the manufacturer, and also results in a smaller, less heavy box, which reduces on shipping costs, storage costs, warehouse costs and so on," Bubley said. "It has got to have beneficial effects for everyone."
Micro-USB connectors, like the one on the right, should be small enough to be cleanly integrated into most slim phone designs for the near future.