Two OEMs Capable of Making Wireless Charging Market Reach Its Tipping Point

Subscribe To Download This Insight

3Q 2017 | IN-4670

Charging a PC, smartphone, or tablet without any wires remains one of the most sought-after technologies for consumers and business users alike. Yet, it also one of the most elusive technologies when it comes to product brands and accessory makers offering a viable commercial solution.

Registered users can unlock up to five pieces of premium content each month.

Log in or register to unlock this Insight.


Apple and Dell Make Headlines Related to Wireless Charging


Charging a PC, smartphone, or tablet without any wires remains one of the most sought-after technologies for consumers and business users alike. Yet, it also one of the most elusive technologies when it comes to product brands and accessory makers offering a viable commercial solution.

In recent OEM news and rumors, both Apple and Dell have had their brands attached to the potential for wireless charging. Apple is rumored to be adding wireless charging to the capabilities of its iPhone 8 smartphones. Dell announced its first 2-in-1 ultraportable computer with optional wireless charging mat and wireless charging keyboard.

Two competing technologies—Qi and PMA—have fragmented suppliers and brands into slowing investments for wireless charging. And a third technology, Rezence, is aiming to converge the initial approaches into a single standard has taken longer to come to market than originally expected. This Insight explores the impact each OEM has on the wireless charging market and how the mobile accessories market is preparing for a future of cable-free charging.

Separating OEM Rumors from Facts for Wireless Charging


Apple remains the most noticeable OEM holdout when it comes to wireless charging for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). To date, the company has only utilized wireless charging for the Apple Watch products, which is compliant with the Qi protocol despite not being an official licensed Qi solution. Other handset OEMs that have already publicly invested in supporting wireless charging, including Google and Samsung, have sided with the Qi solution over the competing PMA/Rezence technology. Ironically, Samsung handsets offer both Qi and PMA support, while the chargers branded by the company only utilize Qi.

If Apple chooses to introduce an Apple Watch compatible with the supplier ecosystem for iPhone 8 wireless charging, it could be the tipping point for Qi technology that the wireless charging supply chain is waiting for. It remains unclear if the proposed Apple iPhone 8 functionality would be part of the handset SKU or if wireless charging will be an Apple-branded aftermarket accessory.

All is not lost for Rezence backers if Apple makes such a move. Despite losing some board member support from Intel in 2016, the trade group has already defined wireless charging specifications for products that require a power envelope higher than mobile devices, including Notebook PCs and household appliances. In contrast to Apple, Dell has continued to experiment with wireless charging as a convenient way to connect power to its business laptop products. The most recent Dell announcement is the Latitude 7000, a 12-inch, 2-in-1, ultraportable notebook PC that offers an optional detachable keyboard extending the traditional laptop use cases to include touch screen tablet usage. An additional accessory available for the Latitude 7000 is a wireless charging mat developed in partnership with WiTricity. WiTricity supports the Rezence wireless charging technology.

Dell Latitude 7000 12” 2-in-1 featuring WiTricity’s magnetic resonance wireless charging technology

Image Source: WiTricity

Wireless Charging Accessory Vendors: Hurry Up and Wait


ABI Research offers OEM device forecasts for inductive charging capability (in-box) as part of the Transformative Consumer Device Features and Technology market data:

  • In 2017, ABI Research forecasts that approximately 13% of smartphone shipments will include inductive wireless charging out of the box. In 2023, ABI Research further predicts that inductive charging will be present in more than half of smartphone shipments (topping 1.1 billion for the year).
  • For tablets, wireless charging is even earlier in adoption cycles than smartphones. In 2017, only 1.2 million tablets are expected to include inductive charging functionality within the product, representing approximately 1% of product sales for the year. Looking ahead to 2026, ABI Research does not have confidence that annual shipments will include inductive charging functionality in most of the global shipments, though 44% of total tablets are forecast to include the technology.

Availability of a unified standard has been a leading reason for the slow uptake of wireless charging in consumer electronics (CE), personal computing (PC), and mobile device markets. However, enabling devices to have wireless charging receivers addresses only half the equation. The same wireless charging technology must be used on the transmitter embedded in a range of charging surfaces, from cradles and docks to tables, countertops, and office furniture. The installed base of devices with few places to charge wirelessly should be viewed as a potential accessories opportunity.

The current market situation for wireless charging has widespread ramifications for the mobile accessories marketplace. Perhaps most important, the lack of a single unified standard that incorporates the benefits of both tight-coupled and loose-coupled wireless charging will keep manufacturers from putting all their efforts into a single solution. Current power supply, battery, and charging dock vendors will be most likely to benefit when the market decides which standard is preferred.

Accessory companies should also consider the need for high volumes of charging surfaces that devices will interface. This often means venues where people tend to congregate, including shopping malls, airports, hotels, conference and event centers, coffee shops, bars, and libraries. These high-traffic, high-visibility sites have been the focus of the charging technology groups, namely WPC and AirFuel Alliance. Incremental opportunities will also emerge for proactive vendors to partner with furniture and countertop builders for the home and workplace.

The fast-charge segment is another area for accessory vendors to consider while the wireless charging battle plays out. While DC-powered USB plugs for automobiles have enabled in-vehicle device charging, the charging rate is not on par with wall-based (AC to DC) plugs. Several of the device OEMs are utilizing fast-charge technologies in their products, which is creating even higher demand for similar capabilities in locations where AC electrical outlets may not be available.

Additional wireless charging research published by ABI Research:

  • Mobile Device News and Rumors Summary: 2Q 2017 (PT-1996)
  • Mobile Accessories Semiannual Update (PT-1818)
  • Mobile Accessories (MD-ACC-162)
  • Transformative Consumer Device Features and Technology (MD-MDET-165)
  • Future Battery and Charging Tech (PT-1670)