Apple's decision to add wireless charging reveals a huge weakness with all current Apple products

Apple's decision to add wireless charging reveals a huge weakness with all current Apple products

One of the most important features on the new iPhones is called wireless charging.


What that means is that instead of plugging your iPhone 8, you can place it on a charging pad.

It looks like this:

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mophie wireless charging base


The iPhone 8 on a wireless charger.

This has lots of people asking: Why is wireless charging a big deal?


Palm and Android smartphones have had wireless charging since 2009. The new iPhones actually work with Samsung wireless chargers. Wireless charging powers up your phone significantly slower than being plugged in. I've used Qi wireless charging before, the same technology Apple's using, and I wasn't impressed.

I believe Apple is pushing wireless charging because it recognizes that a major user experience issue has cropped up - people have too many Apple products to charge.

Consider Apple's core customer: Say, a relatively wealthy American who owns an iPhone, loves his Apple Watch, and uses Apple's nifty wireless AirPods as his headphones. Apple execs like CEO Tim Cook or software engineering head Craig Federighi fit right into this mold.

Now imagine their nightstands: It's positively covered with various cords because Apple's products need a top-up daily - at least one for an iPhone, a separate one for the Apple Watch, and don't forget to plug in your headphones, or you could be stuck without a way to listen to music. And that's not counting this core Apple customer's iPad or laptop.

That's a mess, and it's inelegant, and Apple's top leadership faces it every night. Apple's reputation is built on it delivering an excellent user experience, and that experience now involves desks covered with Apple's iconic white cords.


Maybe that's why Apple pre-announced its own wireless charger that seems designed to solve this exact issue, even though it has no release date more specific than "next year" and reports from Apple's factories suggest the product is not close to mass production.



Apple's AirPower charging mat. It doesn't have a release date yet.

Apple's promotional image for its AirPower wireless charger shows a mat charging AirPods, an Apple Watch, and an iPhone all at the same time. That's where Apple will innovate, and that's its concept for the product: charging multiple things. Just throw your Apple gadgets on the pad.

Perhaps, in the future, Apple will expand the concept to the desk, too, and it can charge your mouse, keyboard, or Apple TV remote.

Apple is primarily a hardware company that has built its reputation on having the best user experience, with software and hardware that sweats the little things, and all works together seamlessly. Right now, for reasons out of Apple's control - the limitations of battery science, the growth of wearables - that user experience now involves cords everywhere.


Apple clearly sees a way to distinguish itself by making wireless power that works together with other Apple products. So wireless charging on the iPhone 8 isn't about convenience today, especially with its limitations. It's about creating a new competitive advantage in the future.