Starbucks going national with (the wrong) wireless phone chargers

Wireless charging for smartphones is slowly but surely pushing its way into the mainstream, as more phones arrive with support for the tech either built-in or easily added with the help of official manufacturer accessories. But for as promising as this all stands to be, there’s a bit of a wrinkle that still needs to be addressed: charging standards. The problem is that the industry is embracing multiple, incompatible standards, and while technology may soon arrive to make that fight a moot point, for the moment it’s a very real concern. We’ve already weighed-in on the battle, observing that while our favorite phones all use the Qi standard, a couple big companies (AT&T and Starbucks) have been leaning hard into the Qi-incompatible PMA standard. Now Starbucks is taking its efforts nationwide, as it shares plans to spread the reach of “Powermat Spots” across the US.

Pocketnow’s Michael Fisher has dealt with these Powermat Spots firsthand, reporting on his run-ins with Starbucks’s trial deployment in the Boston area. And just as it was true last fall, these charging spots in Starbucks cafes will only work with PMA-compatible phones. In the majority of cases, that means having to use a third-party accessory, like the ones pictured above.

Starbucks intends to start bringing these charging spots to the West Coast first, but says that next year should see them extend to major markets across the US – and it’s not just Starbucks stores that will get this tech, but Teavana locations, as well. Will massive availability of public PMA wireless charging spots be able to shift manufacturers’ interests towards using that standard, rather than the currently-favored Qi? It’s too soon to say, but for the moment it really feels like Starbucks might be betting on the wrong horse in this race.

Source: The Verge

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!