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NEW DELHI : The Indian electronics industry is divided over the government’s proposal to adopt a one-charger policy, similar to the one being rolled out by the European Union (EU).

The EU wants electronics products use common chargers to reduce the need for consumers to purchase separate chargers for different devices. While phone makers have been moving towards standard chargers for a few years now, it will be difficult for manufacturers of other devices, such as laptops, to transition towards a standard charging port, said experts.

Urban homes have 10-14 chargers and “the time has come to realize that it is a sheer waste of resources", said Ajai Chowdhry, founder of HCL and chairman of the industry consortium EPIC Foundation. “For a country that has the third largest amount of e-waste, we should avoid things that will make it worse," he added.

E-waste is a key concern in the EU proposal as well. In July, the European regulator mandated that electronics companies should adopt USB Type-C as the standard charging port by September 2024. Subsequently, it extended the deadline to January 2028, in view of the impact on the likes of Apple Inc., which uses proprietary charging standards for its iPhones and Macs. To be sure, India, too, is not in a hurry to firm up a policy without considering the pros and cons of the move.

Ali Akhtar Jafri, the acting director general of industry body Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT), said, “There is apprehension in the industry" and a one-charger rule could affect manufacturing as demand for chargers will reduce. “We suggested to the consumer affairs ministry to wait and watch how EU’s implementation of the common charger pans out."

Furthermore, experts said proprietary chargers are an additional revenue source for many firms, since users have to purchase chargers if it stops working.

“This is true for laptops, but for wearables, it depends on the design. Every brand has a different design and the real estate of the product is too small to have a standard connector," said Navkendar Singh, associate vice-president for devices research, IDC India, South Asia and ANZ.

Chowdhry agreed that implementing a single-charger policy will be challenging. Laptop and entry-level phone makers may not be able to use USB Type-C, as it adds to the cost, he said.

“The mobile industry is already rationalized and uses either micro-USB or USB Type-C ports. 97-98% phones use these two. The matter of concern is laptops, as they all have different chargers," said Pankaj Mohindroo, chairman of India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA).

IDC’s Singh said micro-USB (older standard) is still used in 10% of smartphones in India. An IDC report said 72 million smartphones were shipped in India in the first half of 2022.

Some PC players may also not be sure because of power delivery requirements. Gaming laptops, and devices used for graphic-intensive tasks require power delivery of 240W or more. For this, they will need to deploy more expensive chargers, which cut into their margins, even if it is minimal.

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