Market Insight

LG and Moto lead MWC wireless charge

March 06, 2017

David Green David Green Research & Analysis Manager – Smart Utilities Infrastructure

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Highlights

  • 2017 continues to show promise from OEMs when it comes to wireless charging technology
  • LG G6 launches with in-built Qi and PMA specification inductive wireless charging for the US market
  • The market potential is there, supply chains exist and the technology is ready – even infrastructure is increasing – it just needs one or two more OEMs to integrate and the whole process can snowball.
  • IHS Markit forecasts that the wireless charging market will grow by 80% this year with over 375 million devices shipping in 2017.

Are OEMs are moving (glass) back into the wireless charging fold?

Wireless charging has had an up and down experience with Mobile World Congress.  In 2015 it hit headlines with inclusion into the Samsung Galaxy range, but in 2016 the floor was a lot quieter.  In fact, the availability of integrated wireless charging even took a slight backwards step across the year, being dropped from the LG G5 and also in the move from Google Nexus to Google Pixel.  USB-C and the rise of fast charging seemed to be the direction that OEMs wanted to be heading first, whilst the continued focus on all-metal body design also presented challenges for wireless charging.

Despite this, the wireless charging market grew to over 200 million devices shipping per year, with more consumers than ever (over 90%) want wireless charging on their next phone.  Customer experience is also overwhelmingly positive, with 98% of those who have used the technology saying they are happy with the function and would choose it again.

The market potential is there, supply chains exist and the technology is ready – even infrastructure is increasing – it just needs one or two more OEMs to integrate and the whole process can snowball.

2017 looks to be this year.  Just last month, Apple joined the WPC and now Huawei have joined the AirFuel Alliance – this is a sign of OEMs wanting to be a bigger part of the wireless charging conversation once more.

The US-only inclusion of wireless charging on the LG G6 is also interesting.  In a market where specifications are strongly driven by the voice of the major carriers (including the likes of AT&T and Verizon), there remains a clear mandate to give wireless charging to the consumer.  The shift to a metal and glass body design could also be the sign of things to come for OEM handset design in 2017 – removing one of the potential obstacles that wireless charging has faced so far.

As for the so-called competition with other features such as USB-C and fast charging, co-existance perhaps seems the way forwards.  IHS Markit consumer survey data supports this too, where wireless charging users are typically ‘grazing’ on power throughout the day.

Overall this paints a positive picture, with inductive phone charging firmly back on the agenda from Mobile World Congress and a growing OEM voice within the industry to bridge the gap between the consumer demand and the technology supply.

IHS Markit continues to cover the wireless power industry with the in-depth Wireless Power Market Tracker.  For more details on this product, please contact us.
 

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