August 20, 2004
We need a standard for rechargeable batteriesPosted 4030 days ago on August 20, 2004
This is a huge issue. How many devices do you have with rechargeable batteries? From mobile phones and shavers to toothbrushes, MP3 players and PDAs: each one has its own proprietary battery and its own proprietary charger. So when you travel with several devices you need a bag full of chargers as well. Worse still, a dirty secret of the device world is that each time you use a rechargeable battery, it runs down that little bit quicker. After a year or three, it's useless. Often, the battery is sealed into the unit, so unless you are skilled in electronics your choice is between an uneconomic manufacturer's service, or buying a new device. Most often, you choose the latter, often adding poisonous waste to landfill sites when the old unit is discarded.
Think what would happen if there were an industry standard for rechargeable batteries, in sizes and types suitable for most devices. They would be cheaper. They would be replaceable. You would only need one universal charger. Competition and technology advance would mean gradually improving performance, so that you could easily get longer battery life by replacing your old one. There would also be a healthy market in refurbished batteries (as there is in refilled ink cartridges), since with standard sizes and types there would be an assured market.
Why doesn't this happen? It requires cooperation between competing vendors, and extending device lifetime might reduce sales. It also means hardware designers would have to live with the standard battery sizes, and design easy battery replacement into their devices. On the other hand, users would love it. So would the environment. A good candidate for government interference.
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