What is staggering about this news is that Powermat has until now been a member of the Airfuel Alliance and for years its inductive standard PMA has been the major competitor to Qi, the standard created and propagated by the Wireless Power Consortium.
Despite being a strong competitor for a few years, PMA had increasingly begun to lose its footing on the market. The final blow seemed to occur when Apple formally joined the Wireless Power Consortium in September 2017.
In fact, one source estimates that the Airfuel Alliance, of which PMA was the leading inductive standard, now only holds about 10 percent of the market share of wireless charging devices.
However, this has not quite signaled the end of the road for the Airfuel Alliance which will now focus its efforts on Resonant and RF charging. In particular, the AFA will be hoping that startups such as Energous and Humavox, which have been grabbing headlines in recent times, will be able to deliver on their promise of far-field wireless charging.
Powermat had tried to set their standard PMA apart from the competition by working with public companies like Starbucks whilst Qi dominated the commercial market. Unfortunately for Powermat, the commercial market for wireless chargers has been growing consistently over the last two years whilst public wireless charging has only recently gained momentum thanks to the likes of Aircharge and Chargifi, who now both use Qi in their public hotspots.
After Apple joined the WPC in September it was only a matter of time before Powermat conceded defeat, Starbucks promptly updated their public charging spots to become Qi compatible, effectively removing one of Powermat’s last footings on the market.
Powermat claimed in the news release that they will continue all their efforts on furthering wireless charging technology, the Powermat CEO Elad Dubzinski stated that:
"Qi has become the dominant wireless charging standard on the market and the recently launched Apple iPhone lineup is evidence of this success. Powermat will share technology innovation to further unlock wireless charging potential, and will expedite the growth of the wireless charging infrastructure, bringing wireless charging to wherever users need it."
Menno Treffers the WPC chairman has also acknowledged the value of having Powermat join the WPC, considering it was one of the pioneers that first noticed the value of wireless charging. He stated that Powermat joining "further unifies the wireless charging ecosystem behind the Qi global standard.”
Ultimately, this news has huge implications for wireless charging going forward. While Powermat has been all but out of the standards war for a while now, this news solidifies the fact that the Qi standard now reigns supreme as the go-to inductive charging standard.
While the economically astute among you may point out that monopolies aren’t always a good thing, as long as the WPC commits themselves to progressing their technology, wireless charging may benefit overall as a result. At the very least the WPC no longer has to waste their time on a standard war that has been going on for over 5 years now.
Further, all inductive wireless charging products going forward can be Qi compatible without having to worry about whether they have to hedge their bets on the right standard. This may give commercial companies more confidence in wireless charging as a whole, so don’t be surprised if more companies begin to adopt wireless charging in the near future.
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- Tags: Airfuel Alliance, Apple, Inductive, iPhone, PMA, Powermat, Qi, Starbucks, Wireless Charging Standards, Wireless Power Consortium