Market Insight

Wireless charging coming to Starbucks UK

January 21, 2015

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Following the announcement in June 2014 that Starbucks would install Powermat wireless charging zones in US stores, the company announced this week that it now plans to make a similar roll out in the UK.

The launch is set to be trialled in 10 Central London Starbucks stores before it is rolled out nationwide. As  one of the largest coffee shop chains in the UK with over 700 stores located across the nation, Starbucks aims to use its partnership with Powermat to create a wireless charging network to add convenience and value to the service of its customers.

Analyst insight

When a Powermat wireless charging roll out was announced for Starbucks stores in the US, one of the biggest problems was that of the 20million wireless charging enabled consumer devices that IHS estimates were shipped in 2013, most  were built with the competing Wireless Power Consortium’s (WPC) Qi specification (e.g google nexus 4 and 5 smart phones), which  means that they would therefore not be compatible, unless using an accessory. Devices shipped with wireless charging capabilities in 2014 have followed the same trend, with the majority utilising the Qi specification.

To combat this, Powermat intends to supply wireless charging ‘rings’, which the user can connect to any device to enable it to charge using stations like those being installed in Starbucks . The accessory  is available in multiple colours and will fit all Android and IPhone mobile devices. Once connected to the device, the charging coil in the device will interact with a wireless charging ‘spot’(also provided by Powermat) to charge up the device using tightly coupled inductive technology.

These rings can be purchased online or at participating Starbucks store tills for around $10, but will be offered as a free loan to begin with to demonstrate to users how useful the technology is. This could potentially be a very successful move for Powermat in light of the IHS’ survey findings which revealed that of 1000 respondents across the USA,UK and China, 76%  said they would be happy to pay up to $40 for an accessory to add to their device to enable it to charge wirelessly.

Wireless charging  targets the hospitality sector

This announcement from Starbucks follows last week’s news that McDonalds will install wireless charging stations using the WPC’s Qi charging standard (which, like Powermat, uses tightly coupled inductive charging) in 50 restaurants across the UK.

With more focus on wireless charging being generated in the hospitality sector this can only add to the increased awareness of wireless charging technology among consumers generally. However, it is clear that there is still a lot conflict and competition between the leading wireless power standards, which will continue to create uncertainty for OEMs and ODMs looking to adopt wireless charging. As a result of this, IHS expects that the use of multi-mode (This includes products and solutions which support more than one of the different wireless power technology types or specifications) solutions and accessories will accelerate in the short-term as infrastructure roll-out continues and more than one standard exists. Long-term, the added cost that multi-mode solutions demand is unlikely to allow for mass adoption of wireless charging and a single mode solution will be required to drive costs down.

More analysis from IHS: Wireless Power Intelligence Service

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