Propelled by the rising availability of products and partial resolution of standards conflicts, the global market for wireless charging hardware used for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets will surge to rise by almost fortyfold during the next five years.
Revenue from shipments of wireless power transmitters and receivers will expand to $8.5 billion in 2018, up from just $216 million in 2013, according to IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS). Revenue this year will increase by 264 percent to reach $785 million, as presented in the attached figure.
“Makers of smartphones and tablets increasingly are integrating wireless power functionality directly into their products,” said Ryan Sanderson, associate director and principal analyst for wireless power at IHS Technology. “Meanwhile, conflicts over standards are being resolved, removing a major barrier to widespread adoption. For consumers, this means easier charging of their mobile devices and the elimination of pesky power cables.”
The power within
Several mobile device brands began integrating wireless charging capabilities into their products starting in 2013.
These included Nokia, which introduced Lumia smartphones with wireless charging, and Google with its Nexus 4 and 5 smartphones and its Nexus 7 tablet. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4 smartphones also supported wireless charging via a replacement battery cover that the user had to purchase separately.
Market prospects got another jolt this month when two of the main industry groups—the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA)—agreed to partner. The industry, it appears, is nearing an inflection point.
While this still leaves incompatibility with the Qi specification of the remaining alliance, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), IHS believes that with continued developments in 2014, the industry will align in terms of technology and be in a position to move forwards driving volume adoption in 2015.
“It’s becoming clear that regardless of which alliance’s specification is used, the next generation of wireless power solutions will be built on loosely coupled technology,” Sanderson said. “This will allow for a better consumer experience with more freedom of movement, greater distance between the charger and receiver, and allow for easier installation into infrastructure.”
The A4WP in January announced the availability of its “Rezence” certification program, a loosely coupled specification that uses magnetic resonance technology. Solution developers that are members of both the A4WP and PMA will have the option of manufacturing multimode products that are compatible with this loosely coupled specification and the PMA’s tightly coupled specification. The WPC has also announced that it is working on a specification for loosely coupled magnetic resonance technology that will be compatible with its current tightly coupled Qi specification.
Semiconductor and chipset manufactures are expected to play a key role in providing an interim solution via multimode solutions that can enable multiple technologies and multiple standards. To date there is no single multimode solution that allows compatibility with all three standards along with both loosely coupled and tightly coupled technology.
IHS projects that shipments of wireless power receivers will overtake tightly coupled solutions in 2016.