The pending merger of two wireless charging groups leaves the rival Wireless Power Consortium and its Qi standard as something of the odd man out, though that’s not how its backers see things.
According to them, things are moving along nicely, with the latest sign of progress a deal to equip about 50 British McDonalds restaurants with Qi wireless chargers.
“Every day there is another product that has been registered and in the market,” said John Perzow, VP of market development at the WPC.
Unquestionably, Qi got off to the quickest start and is still the only wireless charging standard to have much luck in getting its technology built into devices themselves. More than 70 phones have hit the market with Qi charging built in, including models from LG, Nokia and Motorola. In addition to the phones themselves, there are 10 to 15 car models from makers including Chrysler that offer Qi charging as an option, along with various hotels, restaurants and other public places.
However, some of the big deals of late have gone to the rival Power Matters Alliance, the group that announced earlier this week its plans to merge with the Alliance For Wireless Power. In perhaps the biggest deal, Starbucks is putting PMA charging spots into its coffee shops nationwide, starting with the San Francisco Bay Area.
Perzow shakes off that and other deals, saying that Qi already has something of a network effect from being built into devices.
“I think it is going be really hard to catch up,” he said.
Perzow acknowledges, though, that the standards battle has hurt wireless charging as a whole.
“It’s growing at about the same rate as Wi-Fi [did],” he said. “It would grow faster if we didn’t have the standard battle.”
Part of the issue is awareness.
“Ninety percent of Qi phone owners don’t even know they have it,” Perlow said. (You can check here.) Only about 10 percent of the public even knows about wireless charging as a thing, he said, let alone gets that there are multiple, competing approaches and technologies.
But Perzow insists his group isn’t losing the standards battle. The A4WP and PMA said last February that they would work together and support one another’s approaches, so a full-on merger is unlikely to change things much.
“I’m not sure what to make of it, frankly,” he said. While those groups are talking about merging their different approaches, Perzow says the WPC is moving forward with its own combination of resonant and inductive technologies. While most products on the market use the original inductive method, which can charge a single device placed on a charging spot, Perzow said the first Qi products combining inductive and resonant charging are hitting the market from Convenientpower. Other companies have resonant products at the prototype stage. Resonant charging allows more freedom in positioning and makes it easier to charge multiple devices.
Plus, Perzow said, the Wireless Power Consortium mandates that Qi-compatible resonant devices also be compatible with the earlier inductive approach, a guarantee not offered by the rival groups.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.