Wall Street doomsday preppers pounding the table on the notion that “peak Apple” has come and gone may soon find themselves in an interesting predicament. There is little question that Apple’s meteoric iPhone sales growth will slow to a halt and even decline in 2016. Apple has already acknowledged as much when it reported results from its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Record-Breaking Quarter. But if you think growth is over at Apple, you have another think coming. And if you think Apple’s core iPhone business is on the brink of decline, you haven’t been paying attention at all.
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show certainly had some highlights, but it was during CES 2015 that I saw the future. A future where everything around us is connected. Of course, all of those connected devices need power and not everything is stationary, so one of the most exciting companies I saw at CES 2015 was a small startup called Energous.
Current-generation wireless charging solutions like Qi are nice. A smartphone equipped with the required hardware can simply be placed on a charging pad, or on anything with a built-in wireless charger, and its battery will begin to recharge. It’s more convenient than fussing with cables but it’s not quite as exciting as the technology that will refuel all of our devices in the future.
No, that technology will look much more like the product Energous has created.
Dubbed WattUp, Energous has built a two-part system that allows practically any type of device to be recharged wirelessly from distances of up to 15 feet. Anything that has integrated a tiny Energous receiver chip will be able to utilize this exciting technology, and the chip is so small that it won’t add any thickness to devices like smartphones, tablets, smartwatches or laptop computers.
Think about what that means. With an Energous transmitter in your office, your phone will constantly be charging even while it’s in your pocket as you sit at your desk and work. With a transmitter in your living room, your phone will charge while it sits on the couch beside you.
Now, here’s where things get interesting. There is a good amount of evidence out there to suggest that Energous has landed a major partner with which it will bring its technology to market, and that its partner is Apple. I won’t bother rehashing it all — Disruptive Tech Research analyst Louis Basenese did all the heavy lifting there.
If Apple has secured an exclusive deal with Energous to bring WattUp to future iPhones though, Apple’s upcoming smartphone lines are going to change the game more than you can even imagine. We’re talking about the biggest technological advancement in smartphones since Apple released the original iPhone in 2007 and brought touch-based mobile computing to the masses.
The implications for the user experience are obvious, though they’re made no less exciting by that fact. The immediate impact will remove the need to be proactive in charging your iPhone — it will just happen. And in the long term as the technology improves and proliferates, people won’t ever even have to think about charging their devices again.
But the implications for Apple’s bottom line should be just as compelling for investors. Think about what sales will be like if (when?) Apple is the first company to bring this technology to the masses. If you buy this new iPhone, you’ll never have to plug it in again.
And think about what this technology will do for Apple’s business. Forget the inevitable iPhone sales records, Apple will launch an entirely new business as a result of this technology. After all, when you buy one of these new iPhones you’re also going to need one, two, even five Apple transmitters capable of wirelessly charging your phone from across the room. One for the bedroom, one for the living room, one for the office, and so on.
The iPhone also won’t be the only Apple product that will be equipped with WattUp wireless charging, you can be sure of that.
Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 may not include Energous technology, but this isn’t some far off dream we’re talking about. In fact, a WattUp-equipped iPhone in the next year or two isn’t unthinkable at all; Energous has previously stated that WattUp technology could feasibly launch in commercial devices by late 2016 or early 2017.
Dollars and Sense is a recurring column by BGR Executive Editor Zach Epstein. It offers insights on subtle changes in and around consumer electronics with the potential to have a broad impact on companies that drive the industry. Contact the author at email@example.com.