Friday, April 29, 2016

Powermat Problems

When he started Powermat Technologies Inc. in 2006, Ran Poliakine envisioned a cordless future where millions of consumers would watch television, charge their phones and power up their kids’ toys without plugging into a wall socket.

A decade on, Poliakine’s vision is a long way off. While Powermat’s charging technology is increasingly being used in phones, cars and Starbucks cafes, widespread adoption remains elusive. It doesn’t help that the Israeli company is being roiled by management infighting, dividing the board and prompting Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins to offer his resignation.

The last thing Powermat needs right now is a distraction. Competition is intensifying with a rival technology called Qi, and Apple is said to be cooking up its own version. Consumers, having waited years to be freed from pesky charging cords, increasingly say they want someone -- anyone -- to provide a simple way they can wirelessly charge their phones, tablets and laptops.

Jim McGregor, the principal analyst at TIRIAS Research, says wireless charging won’t become mainstream until a widely available service lets people power-up on the go. “If you have to go around to multiple places, you don’t want to carry a charging mat with you,” he said. “You want to charge where you are.”

McGregor says it’s striking that wireless charging hasn’t taken off despite the concept’s appeal. Powermat’s struggle to become ubiquitous is emblematic.

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