Powermat Wireless Phone Charging Offered at Starbucks
In a recent article, we highlighted the April 2014 IPO of Energous (NASDAQ:WATT), a company claiming to offer “wireless charging” capabilities for phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. We discussed the fact that purchasing shares in Energous seems highly speculative as the Company has no granted patents, a prototype that is too large, just a small amount of cash on hand, no revenues, and some transactions in the past that could be considered conflicts of interest. One additional reason for WATT speculators to be concerned is because of a company called Powermat.
Israeli-based Powermat was founded in 2006 with their first products being launched in 2009. The Company’s wireless charging technology has been adopted by the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), a non-profit consortium dedicated to advancing wireless charging. PMA members include Samsung, LG, Freescale, HTC, Broadcom, Blackberry, Texas Instruments, and many others. Additionally, the Powermat technology platform has been adopted by Duracell, General Motors, Starbucks and AT&T. In January of 2012, Powermat and Procter & Gamble created a joint venture under the Duracell Powermat brand. Retail products from Powermat are sold globally under the brand Duracell Powermat.
Powermat’s technology allows a consumer to place their phone on top of a Powermat charging pad on a table for example and the phone’s battery will begin charging.
But how do you enable your phone to charge wirelessly using a Powermat charging pad? There are a number of ways to enable your phone to wirelessly charge. One way is to buy a ring that plugs into your phone:
This doesn’t seem too practical considering that now you have to carry around a ring with your phone. Why not just integrate the functionality into the phone case? That’s just what Powermat did in partnership with Duracell:
The iPhone-5 case seen above retails for just $36.00 on Amazon. Duracell is not the only company offering cases that support the Powermat charging pads. It appears that Powermat plans to license their technology to other companies who wish to produce phone cases that support Powermat charging pads. The below stylish case for the Samsung S4 is offered by a company called Incipio and retails for $29.95 on Amazon:
However, we may not see these cases and rings around for long. In January 2014, Powermat and Flextronics, agreed to cooperate in order to embed wireless power in electronic mobile devices. According to an article by ZDNet, AT&T is already selling smartphones that are compatible with Powermat’s technology.
A Vote of Confidence from Starbucks
Some big news for Powermat came just yesterday when Duracell Powermat and Starbucks announced that they have begun a national rollout of Powermat wireless charging in Starbucks beginning with stores in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Starbucks will expand Powermat to additional major markets in 2015, with a full national rollout planned over time. Initial pilots in Europe and Asia are expected within the year. Starbucks stores will be equipped with ‘Powermat Spots’ which are designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible devices and charge wirelessly. Select Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose offer Powermat today and the broader rollout can be tracked at www.powermat.com/locations. Remember those rings we talked about earlier? Those will be sold at Starbucks locations for several dollars so anyone can take advantage of the wireless charging offered by Starbucks.
Powermat has first-mover advantage having been chosen by such global leaders as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Madison Square Garden, and dozens of airports around the world to supply wireless power. They have a product that works and is currently being used with strong growth in adoption expected given their partnerships with such strong brands. For investors, there is no exposure to be had to Powermat given that they are privately held with Duracell holding 55% of their shares. Duracell belongs to Proctor and Gamble, the multinational consumer goods giant which had revenues last year of over $84 billion. However there has been speculation in the media that P&G may be looking to sell off the Duracell division in which case investors may be able to get better exposure to this story, depending of course on whether or not they are acquired by a publicly traded company and if so, how large. Regardless of what happens, the success Powermat has enjoyed so far does not bode well for those who are speculating on the recent IPO of Energous (NASDAQ:WATT).