Wireless charging in the iPhone, tri-modal receivers and the one-millionth public charger unit shipment are all realistic expectations for the wireless charging market in 2016. With the wireless power industry setting strategies for 2016 and beyond, following are the key upcoming trends to support planning, according to IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight:
1. The iPhone 7 will launch with integrated wireless charging in September 2016
Specifications for new Apple products are notoriously difficult to predict, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for mobile phone manufacturers to ignore the adoption of wireless charging by competitors. "It is highly likely that the next iPhone will be equipped with this technology, although it won't become clear until days before launch which standard (or even which proprietary technology) they might choose," said David Green, research manager, power supplies & wireless power, IHS Technology.
2. Tri-modal receivers in mobile phones by the end of 2016
The commercial launch of Rezence-standard receivers in mobile phones and notebooks/netbooks is expected to occur in 2016. "It will be interesting to see the choices made by mobile phone manufacturers in particular," Green said. "While they could ignore the growing adoption of inductive solutions, both in handsets and in charging infrastructure, in favor of a Rezence-only solution, it is far more likely that mobile phone manufacturers will choose multi-mode receiver solutions, in the pursuit of interoperability and the best possible consumer experience."
3. Customer satisfaction levels to drop in the annual IHS survey
In an IHS consumer survey conducted last year, less than 1 percent of consumers who had previously used wireless charging said they would not want it in their next device. From a customer retention point of view, that is a positive endorsement of the benefits to the technology. However, with an increase in the number of consumers using the technology this year, we can expect the headline satisfaction numbers to initially decrease.
"Satisfaction will remain very high but is expected to fall somewhat, as more people will no doubt have some negative experiences at first," Green said. "As consumers better understand the technology and adoption increases in various applications, consumers will start making demands for power-charging capabilities they want in their next devices."
4. One million public wireless chargers installed
According to IHS forecasts, in 2016 the one-millionth wireless charger will be installed into public infrastructure. As the rollout picks up speed, however, not all of them are still functioning or in use. As the proportion of consumers with wireless-charging-enabled mobile phones rises, so does the potential for hotels, restaurants and other businesses to entice them with offers of free and convenient power.
5. At least one OEM commitment to uncoupled technology
Uncoupled wireless charging technology is not a direct competitor to tightly or loosely coupled technologies. Instead there will be a divergence between sessions of high power at small distances (i.e., tightly or loosely coupled) and continuous low power at higher distances (i.e., uncoupled). 2016 will be the year development changes focus. Internet of Things (IoT) applications play on the strengths of uncoupled technology, too.
"We do not expect mainstream product launches of uncoupled wireless-charging receivers; arguably those will not enter the market until 2017, at the earliest," Green said. "However, in 2016 we expect to see at least one major original equipment manufacturer sign development agreements within the uncoupled space."