Wireless Charging Candidates Stake Their Claims

Carl Weinschenk
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CNET’s Roger Cheng has a comprehensive story on wireless charging that he researched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The meat of Cheng’s research is a look at the major consortiums that are springing up around wireless charging, which are the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), Qi and A4WP. At the start of the piece, CNET reports that it has learned that AT&T is attempting to get handset vendors on its networks to use PMA. Cheng positions this as a sign that “the industry may yet be inching toward some level of sanity” in settling on one approach.

Cheng’s report is very good – and it essentially disproves that thesis. Essentially, there are powerful companies backing each of the three wannabes and each has gained some traction. AT&T’s moves may suggest that PMA is making progress, but the sense is that will be a long time until the game ends.

For instance, Android Authority reports that Samsung is looking past Qi and now is working with Qualcomm on A4WP, and its WiPower technology. The two approaches don’t have much in common, according to the story:

There are some pretty significant differences between Qi and WiPower, both in terms of how they work and what they allow consumers to do with them. Design wise, WiPower is based on magnetic resonance charging where as Qi is based on magnetic induction. What this means is that Qi requires contact, or a very short distance, between the device and the charging mat, where as Samsung’s new technology can charge devices when they are theoretically several feet away from the power source.

The point simply is that winners and losers still cannot be picked. The problem, however, is that this is an issue the industry should have dealt with long ago.

The good news is that there is a lot of movement. DigiTimes reported on March 8 that wireless charging is expected in flagship models from Nokia, LG Electronics, HTC, Samsung and Apple. The piece reinforces the idea that it is a confusing situation. It also suggests, however, that the vendors’ choosing of sides could lead to clarification down the road.

It is particularly important that Apple make a choice. Despite its recent travails – which seem more like speed bumps than significant obstacles – the choices made by Cupertino are hugely important in terms of public opinion. Indeed, observers generally agree that Apple’s dithering on near-field communications (NFC) has slowed the technology’s acceptance.

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