Apple has joined the not-for-profit organisation — Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), an industry group that develops a widely-used wireless charging standard that can be found on some smartphones in the market.
The leading wireless charging standard — Qi — has been embraced by hundreds of leading manufacturers and is in 1,343 products people can buy now. Qi is an established, universal technology standard available to developers and consumers right now.
Last year, 152 different brands registered a Qi product on the WPC website, up from 86 in 2015. And in 2014 only 56 brands registered a product.
Although Apple’s iPhone 7 models don’t support wireless charging, the Apple Watch uses a proprietary wireless charging puck to charge up.
Vicky Yussuff, analyst at IHS Technology, said that this is the first time Apple have confirmed involvement with any wireless power standard body.
The success of wireless charging adoption from Apple’s competitors is something that Apple can no longer ignore, he added.
IHS Technology consumer survey data shows over 90 per cent of consumers want wireless charging on their next device. 49 per cent of consumers who have used wireless charging accessories, purchased more than one wireless charging product and 15 per cent of consumers who have used wireless charging accessories, purchased three or more wireless charging accessories.
After several years of increasing rumour, Apple’s membership with the WPC points strongly to the expectation that the next iPhone will include wireless charging technology.
The global market for wireless charging is expected to exceed 350 million enabled receiver units shipped in 2017.
To date, this volume has largely been driven through the backing of wireless charging by Samsung.
However, Yussuff said that many in the industry have been cautious to move forwards until they knew the direction for any wireless charging on iPhone devices.
“Although shipments of wireless charging devices grew by 40 per cent in 2016, the continued absence of the iPhone and the continued wait for the launch of magnetically resonant devices meant shipments were lower than expected for 2016 overall,” he said.
The research firm expects that at least one other major mobile phone handset OEM will also announce a new smartphone device with wireless charging technology integrated at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress show.
With these announcements, he said that new partnerships and a reigniting of the industry interest in wireless power, the prospect of receiver shipments hitting two billion units in 2025 are stronger than ever.