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Standards are merging

Recently, two of the major forces behind wireless charging announced their intent to merge. The marriage of PMA and A4WP certainly seemed needed as the tide was shifting to Qi fairly quickly. The timing of the merger still appears on track to be June 30th, 2015.

The tactic for PMA has been somewhat of a pull marketing strategy. Signing a test deal with Starbucks was a great deal for PMA with the hopes that once PMA was conveniently located, consumers would demand phone cases and charging devices. However, there was still no surge in PMA powered devices or cases. Back in December, we would have bet that Qi would eventually win the standards war even though we are most excited about the A4WP standard technically (greater range and power). Now, the picture is less clear.

Qi seemed to have the advantage with a large number of devices including Qi as well as many aftermarket accessories such as Qi phone cases and battery packs.

This new merger strengthens the PMA/A4WP position and combines added resources to this battle. However, now there is a new twist... Chip module organizations are starting to develop dual standard charging systems. The standards are so similar, it was only inevitable. For instance, the new Samsung S6 will work on both Qi and PMA charging pads. For consumers, this tends to be a good thing but for manufacturers, using dual platform modules increases costs. So in a way, it would actually be even better if there was a clear standard established that was universally adopted. For the near term (next year or two), it would seem that dual standard charging devices will be the most popular and cause the least amount of confusion. There is still one major wildcard... Apple. Apple is using induction charging for it's watch. It also has several patents more closely related to the A4WP standard. And just recently, they began hiring engineers for wireless charging integration into mobile devices. We would not be surprised if Apple created their own standard since the market is still in such an infancy. But what we suspect will happen is that Apple adopts the newly merged A4WP/PMA alliance and influences the next iteration of that standard. Some of the past patents from Apple show short range charging around a desktop computer. So for instance, the monitor serves as a transmitting hub that will charge your wireless mouse within a few feet. This seems more likely to happen with the A4WP/PMA specs while Qi would have to play catchup. Plus, Qi is widely adopted by Samsung, Google Nexus, LG, Nokia and Motorola. Apple would be a rather late adopter if they went with Qi. Also, Qi is pretty prolific and there are many low quality Qi accessories on the marketplace. Apple would want a bit more control over this situation. With the adoption of the USB Type-C connector in the latest MacBook, Apple has shown that they are not opposed to adopting universal standards if they are superior. Our guess is that Apple will do the same with wireless charging and adopt the A4WP/PMA standard while having a significant influence over the standard. This is just our guess drawn from logical conclusions and as we all know, technology rarely evolves in a logical fashion.

 




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