Apple has nixed plans to build its much anticipated AirPower wireless charging pad, the company said Friday.
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards, and we have canceled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch.”
The announcement marks a rare event for the hardware maker. The company announced in 2017 it would begin selling the product the following year, going so far as to release marketing photos of the device, only to delay its launch.
Rumors of the device’s release persisted periodically over the past year, with articles coming out as recently as last week predicting it would hit store shelves any day. Apple held a product launch event this week where it only unveiled new services; it announced new updates of some of its hardware last week.
The news comes as Apple tries to diversify its revenue by expanding beyond hardware to sell more services. It announced three new subscription products Monday in news, video games and original video. The AirPower hiccup will no doubt raise questions about the company’s ability to focus on new areas while still retaining its competitive edge in the area it has long dominated: high end computer hardware.
Apple has been pushing the idea of wireless charging to its customers. The iPhone has had wireless charging capabilities since it came out with the iPhone 8 in September 2017, and the Apple Watch has always had wireless charging. And last week, Apple released a new version of its AirPods wireless ear buds, the major improvement being wireless charging capabilities.
Third party manufacturers make wireless charging pads that are compatible with Apple’s devices.
Apple has had major hardware mishaps in the past, such as when the iPhone 4’s antenna did not work properly, an incident that became known as “antenna gate.” It recently apologized for problems with the keyboard on some of its laptops. But the company rarely announces anything publicly that it does not launch.
Wireless charging is a challenging technology. Though it has been around for years, the products tend to be glitchy and the standards confusing. It could be that it will take some time before the technology is commonplace enough, reliable enough and profitable enough for like Apple to produce.
Riccio said Apple is still bullish on wireless charging, saying in the statement the company is “committed to push the wireless experience forward.”
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Reed Albergotti