Apple today said it has cancelled plans to release a wireless charger for its iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. The company first revealed AirPower in September 2017 and suggested it would arrive by early 2018. More than 18 months later, the product still hasn’t reached store shelves. Apple has scrapped it.
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, in a statement emailed to TechCrunch. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”
The charging pad’s absence had become a running joke for the last few months as people have begun to question the product’s legitimacy. A handful of Apple events came and went with no further mention of AirPower.
When first revealed, Apple said the pad would be able to charge two devices simultaneously and deliver the proper charge to each device. The company envisioned that people might charge their iPhone and AirPods on the pad at the same time. The iPhone would also be able to supply real-time information about the charging status of each device.
This isn’t the first time Apple products have failed to launch, or failed to launch on time. The original AirPods were delayed and even once they began shipping initial quantities were strictly limited.
Apple did not provide a specific reason for cancelling AirPower other than its inability to “achieve our high standards.” That’s marketing speak for “we just couldn’t get the darned thing to work.”
Speculation about engineering challenges has run rampant, mostly pertaining to thermal issues. Managing heat is important when imparting electricity to lithium-ion batteries. AirPower was shown alongside the first iPhones to support wireless charging, the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
“Apple cancels products before shipping them all the time — but it keeps its entire product development process secret,” noted Avi Greengart, lead analyst at Techsponential to Android Authority. “It is unusual, though not unprecedented, for Apple to announce products long before they ship. It is downright rare for Apple to cancel products that it has announced. So this is definitely not normal operating procedure for Apple. Of course, it is just an accessory, and there are plenty of alternatives that do essentially the same thing, if not as elegantly.”
Other companies have been able to bring similar wireless chargers to market successfully. In August 2018, for example, Samsung released the Wireless Charger Duo, which can handle two phones, or a phone and Galaxy watch at the same time. The Wireless Charger Duo is available online for about $65.