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Friday, June 02, 2006

Charged Up

Gotta give some credit to Martha Stewart. I've never cared one bit about the domestic diva, but earlier this week, she finally brought up something I did care about.

At the Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital" conference, Sony CEO Howard Stringer had just finished his presentation and opened the floor up to questions, when Martha stood up in the audience and stepped up to the microphone carrying a tote bag. As she addressed Stringer, she pulled out the charger for her camcorder. Then the charger for her laptop. Then the one for her digital camera. Then another one for her cellphone.

That's when she pointed to two of them and asked Stringer, "Why can't this thing be this thing?" In other words, why do we (the consumers) need all these different plugs and cords to charge all of our electronic devices? Why isn't there a single standard?

Stringer tried to get away without answering, but Martha kept pushing him until he said he would look into it, although he admitted, "For the last three years, the most profitable division [at Sony] was the components division."

Let's hope he does look into it, and that other manufacturers hear the complaint, too.

Worse, there isn't even consistency within each company. When I traded up my cell phone from one Sony Ericsson model to another, the old charger and headset didn't fit in the new one. A listener complained to me that she has two Canon digital cameras but the charger for one doesn't work for the other one. That's insanity.

In a world where I can plug both my big living room TV and my small bedside lamp into a wall socket and have them both get the juice they need, why can't this generation of electronic geniuses -- who I'm sure have many of these devices themselves -- come up with a universal charger?