Apple AirPower: Why is Apple so Late to the Wireless Charging Game?

Last updated on October 10th, 2023 at 09:10 am

The iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are capable of wireless charging. That's pretty cool - except despite their promises, Apple has yet to release an actual wireless charger. So what's taking so long?

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The iPhone 8 and the iPhone X are capable of wireless charging. That’s pretty cool – except despite their promises, Apple has yet to release an actual wireless charger. So what’s taking so long?

Mark Gurman, a reporter with strong Apple connections, attempted to answer this very question in a Bloomberg article [1] published earlier today.

Wireless Charging: An Old Idea

Wireless charging has been around for a while now. In fact, wireless charging as we know it, has been around since 1978.[2] But, as most of us know, Apple is rarely the first to adopt a new technology.

Android devices have been using wireless charging since about 2013. Prior to that, there was a wireless charger for Nintendo Wii controllers in 2009 and Oral-B rechargeable toothbrushes have used inductive charging since the 1990’s.

So if the age of wireless charging came upon us over 2 decades ago, why are we still waiting for Apple to release a charger that works with its own phones?

Improving on Existing Technology

Gurman’s assessment focused largely on the technical challenges Apple is trying to overcome in developing wireless charging systems. He pretty much has it nailed down.

Apple has a habit of taking existing technology, waiting a long time before adopting it, and then releasing it in ways the consumer never knew they needed.

As an example, the AirPower charging pad that Apple is planning will have the ability to charge multiple devices simultaneously. This requires the pad to determine what device is sitting on it, and then deliver the appropriate charging power required by that device, and deliver that power just to the area where that device has been placed.

Young woman using a smartphone as it is being charged
Lightning cables are a major source of revenue for Apple.

But, There’s Another Reason: Lightning Cables

Apple doesn’t make any decision by accident. From design aspects to timing, everything is calculated.

At upwards of $29 a pop, Apple’s lightning cables for charging iPhones & iPads bring in a ton of cash and profit. At least… they used to.

Today, however, it’s easy to find cheaper alternatives to Apple-branded lightning cables. No, I’m not talking about cheap Chinese knockoffs, I’m talking about high-quality cables that you can get for easily half the price of Apple’s.

It may just be that Apple has finally dropped below a certain threshold on lightning cable sales that wireless charging via AirPower has become a new potential market.

Final Thoughts

Apple’s lag on developing and releasing a quality wireless charger isn’t due to poor management or bad business. You don’t make $88 billion by accident.

Apple has waited on this development until they knew that the bulk of their users would be switching to less expensive lightning cables for their Apple devices.

Apple continues their philosophy on improving on an existing technology instead of going through the hassle of inventing it. In the Apple world, first isn’t always best. Unless you’re Neil Armstrong.

Sources & Additional Reading:

Bloomberg: Why Apple’s AirPower Wireless Charger Is Taking So Long to Make

Wikipedia: Inductive Charging

Sharif Jameel is a business owner, IT professional, runner, & musician. His professional certifications include CASP, Sec+, Net+, MCSA, & ITIL and others. He’s also the guitar player for the Baltimore-based cover bands, Liquifaction and Minority Report.

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