It’s 2019 and that means Apple has officially slipped on its promise to deliver the AirPower charging plate during 2018. Of course, when it was announced in 2017, we expected the AirPower to arrive early in 2018 but Apple never said “early” so we cut them 365 days of slack. But that time has passed and it seems Apple is hoping no one will notice.
The AirPower sounded like a great idea – in 2017. It is (was?) a charging mat that allowed you to drop an Apple Watch, iPhone and AirPods and charged them. But it seems the engineering required to accomodate multiple devices and Apple’s approach to wireless charging standards was a little tricker than the boffins in Cupertino expected.
While the most recent iPhones use the Qi standard for their wireless charging, the Apple Watch doesn’t. So, as well as accomodating multiple devices on one charging pad – something existing products can’t do – they also have to support multiple protocols.
That’s a challenging exercise.
The other challenge Apple faces is market related. When the AirPower mat was revealed, wireless charging accessories were still quite new and in relatively short supply. But that’s no longer the case. At a couple of recent conferences I attended wireless charging accessories were being given away for free and there are plenty of decent accessories on the market for under $20.
It’s unlikely Apple’s solution will sell for that kind of price. More likely, we’ll see something closer to the $200 range. I’m not sure who would spend that kind of money on something you can get for less than lunch at Maccas.
Apple’s policy has typically been to not discuss unreleased or rumoured products so there’s little information about the AirPower mat on their web site. Other than a reference to its application for a trademark and mentions of the AirPower on the iPhone X and iPhone 8/iPhone 8 Max press releases, the AirPower is MIA on Apple’s official communications.
Although Apple has never been shy about killing off products – it discontinued the iPod Mini when it was the company’s best selling iPod and admitted to design issues with the Mac Pro – it rarely kills a a product before we’ve seen it.
But I suspect the AirPower mat will not see light of day. Its moment has passed.