January 18, 2013

O2 UK recently tried something with HTC’s flagship of the month, the One X+. They gave people an option to buy it with or without a charger. They were hoping that 70% of people would opt for the device sans charger. The actual result? An astonishing 82% decided they didn’t need yet another wall wart to USB converter in their home. O2 estimates that there are 100 million chargers in the UK not being used, enough to fill up four Olympic sized swimming pools. But forget about the size, think about all that wasted copper and rubber!

So what’s the end goal here? O2 hopes that manufacturers will stop bundling chargers with their devices by the year 2015. That’s less than two years away. Can it be done? Let’s think this through.

The first and most obvious thing that comes to mind is that wireless charging is going to explode this year. We would be shocked if the Galaxy S4 didn’t come with wireless charging. That means people are going to want to buy a wireless charger since most companies don’t bother bundling one in the box since it’s too expensive.

Second, wired chargers are cheap to make, so not putting one in the box isn’t going to save much on the bill of materials. What is going to save a company money is the fact that they can use a smaller retail box, meaning more of said boxes can be put on a plane/boat/truck. That reduces transportation costs.

And third … one and two should be good enough! We hope the industry listens to O2, but truth be told, companies don’t often make such major changes unless they’re forced to by the government. It was China and Europe that forced all phones to have microUSB. Which country is going to force HTC, Samsung, and everyone else to not bundle a charger?

Show 15 comments