AirPower Hasn't Even Launched and It's Already Set Up for Embarrassment

It's going to be an uphill battle.

It’s crunch time for the AirPower wireless charging mat, with Apple’s October event on the horizon. If it doesn’t drop Tuesday, the device will be headed down the same road as the HomePod smart speaker: teased early, heavily delayed, and beset by lukewarm sales.

Philip Schiller enthusiastically announced that Apple was working on the charger several product announcements ago, during September 2017. It was expected in earnest at last month’s iPhone event, but after the non-appearance Apple’s site appeared to be updated so that AirPower’s only mention was under the AirPods landing page. And even then it was a rendering, not an actual product shot.

That said, the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR manuals all drop subtle hints that the AirPower is still on its way. This sends a subtle message that Apple plans on trying to launch it, just without the expected fanfare. Tomorrow is likely the AirPower’s last chance to meet its 2018 release deadline. If it doesn’t, Apple will find it difficult to break into the wireless charging market.

Designs of Apple's upcoming AirPower wireless charger obtained by Apple Patently.

Apple Patently

AirPower: Wireless Chargers Are Everywhere

Apple was the last major tech company to release a smart speaker and it’ll be the likely also be the last to drop a wireless charger. This could be a major detriment to the AirPower’s sales.

As of the third quarter, Apple has managed to snag six percent of the United States smart speaker market share, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report. Amazon and Google were able to get to customers first and lock them down with cheaper options that work perfectly well, with or without other Apple devices.

Apple will have to surmount the same disadvantage in the wireless charger space. Google, Samsung, LG, and countless other companies have their own wireless chargers that are all cheaper than the $150 price tag that the AirPower is expected to come with.

The only real selling point for the mythical AirPower, at this point, is the fact that it has been advertised as being able to charge three devices at once, something that only a handful of other mats can do.

It’s unclear why anyone besides the most die-hard of Apple fans would insist on an Apple branded wireless charger. The sell gets even tougher when you realize that you need a minimum of two Apple devices to get any utility out of it whatsoever, and iPhone and at least one wearable. While it hasn’t even launched yet, the AirPower already has an uphill battle ahead of it. If another product announcement comes and goes without its rollout, at least we’ll now know why.

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