At its iPhone 8 and iPhone X event in September, Apple announced plans to release a wireless charging mat called the AirPower. February rumors suggested the device would make its debut the following month, but that never happened. Now, word has it we’re still months away from AirPower’s launch. Bloomberg reports that AirPower is taking longer than expected to arrive “due to a series of technical hurdles,” and that Apple now aims to release the device “before or in September.”
Apple did not immediately respond to PCMag’s request for comment. Accessory makers like Mophie and Belkin already make wireless iPhone chargers, but AirPower’s killer feature is supposedly its ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods charging case all at the same time. The only problem: Apple hasn’t yet revealed when AirPower will be available or for how much.
“An executive at an Apple partner that manufactures third-party wireless chargers for iPhones, who asked not to be identified, said that the multi-device charging mechanism is challenging to build because it likely requires different sized charging components for the three types of devices, which would all overlap across the mat,” Bloomberg says. This is just the latest in a series of recent Apple product delays, including AirPods and HomePod. Originally slated for an October 2016 release, AirPods didn’t start shipping until December of that year, and were initially only available in limited quantities.
Apple first unveiled HomePod in June 2017, meanwhile, and said it planned to start selling it that December in time for the holidays.
Apple first announced its AirPower wireless charging mat back in September, with a 2018 release promise. Previous rumors had suggested it would launch in March, but an iPad education event and WWDC keynote have both came and passed without any mention of the AirPower mat. Bloomberg reports that Apple is now aiming to start selling its AirPower wireless charging mat before or in September.
Apple has reportedly hit “technical hurdles” developing AirPower, thanks to the complexity of the circuitry involved and engineers having to ensure the mat doesn’t overheat. Apple is creating AirPower so it can charge three devices at the same time: a modern iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (thanks to a special case).
Bloomberg reports that engineers have been working on fixing firmware-related bugs, as Apple is using custom chips and attempting to allow consumers to place devices anywhere on the mat.
While Apple has clearly hit delays with AirPower, other companies are trying to take advantage of this gap in the market.
An Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource Plux, an AirPower lookalike, has raised £595,000 so far, demonstrating the demand for such an accessory.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court officially picked up the long-running antitrust case Apple v. Pepper. The court will decide whether iPhone users can sue Apple for locking down the iOS ecosystem, something the suit’s plaintiffs say is creating an anti-competitive monopoly.
Pepper could theoretically affect how tech companies can build walled gardens around their products. The Supreme Court isn’t going to make a call on that specific issue, but its decision could affect people’s relationship with all kinds of digital platforms. Here’s what’s at stake when the Supreme Court case starts, which should happen sometime in the next year.
Apple Inc. v.
Robert Pepper is the latest salvo in a legal fight over Apple’s iOS App Store. A group of iPhone buyers are claiming that Apple’s locked-down ecosystem artificially inflates the prices of apps because all developers must go through a single store that takes a cut of their revenue. The buyers argue that Apple has established an unlawful monopoly over iOS apps, and they’re asking the courts to make Apple allow third-party iOS apps, in addition to repaying every iOS user it’s overcharged in the past.
Pepper began as a broader antitrust complaint in 2011. Robert Pepper and three other iPhone owners claimed that Apple had stifled competition and driven up prices on its iPhone — partly by locking out third-party apps and partly by signing a five-year exclusivity deal with AT&T. A court struck the latter claim in 2013.
Since then, the class action case has focused purely on the App Store.
In 2014, Apple won a judgment against Pepper, and the complaint was dismissed. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in early 2017, allowing the case to move forward. Now, Apple is petitioning the Supreme Court to throw it out again.
The central dispute is relatively simple: Apple only allows iOS users to install apps through its App Store.
Any third-party stores require jailbreaking your phone and voiding the warranty. Apple also takes a 30 percent commission on apps that are sold through the App Store. Pepper’s complaint concludes that developers are logically passing that cost along to consumers.
The complaint says that iPhone users have paid “hundreds of millions of dollars more” for apps “than they would have paid in a competitive market.” That’s a claim that could be challenged in court, but there are real-world examples of apps passing costs to customers.
Apple denies the claim that its closed ecosystem is an unlawful monopoly. It says users can buy apps on other platforms, and that by definition, opening the App Store in 2008 created new competitive opportunities.
But courts haven’t made a call on this argument yet. Instead, they’ve focused on whether iPhone users can sue Apple at all.
In 1977, the Supreme Court established what’s known as the Illinois Brick doctrine, which says that “indirect purchasers” can’t sue a company for antitrust damages.
Pepper’s lawsuit portrays Apple as directly selling iOS apps to users at a markup. But Apple claims that iOS users are essentially buying apps from developers, who are buying Apple’s software distribution services, which would make developers the only direct purchasers with the right to sue Apple.
If Apple convinces the Supreme Court that this is correct, it doesn’t even have to worry about the monopoly question. Sure, a developer could sue the company later, but developers have a strong incentive to stay friendly with Apple — and they actually benefit from iOS’s locked-down, piracy-unfriendly system.
Yes, according to the 2017 ruling that Apple is appealing.
The Ninth Circuit appeals court disregarded Apple’s arguments — like the fact that it’s taking a commission from developers rather than adding a fee to user transactions — as hair-splitting. It determined that regardless of who’s making the apps or setting the exact prices, Apple is acting as a distributor, which gives it a direct relationship with its customers.
But a lower court didn’t agree with that interpretation, and there’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will either.
Nothing — yet. If a court rules that Apple has an unlawful monopoly, it could require Apple to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars or even change its App Store model.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Ninth Circuit’s decision, though, it will just send the case back to a lower court, where the fight will keep going.
But the decision will also affect how much power consumers have over digital platforms. In 1998, a major appeals court ruling shot down concertgoers who sued Ticketmaster for driving up ticket prices, saying that Ticketmaster was actually selling distribution services to concert venues. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion explicitly says that decision was wrong.
So a favorable Supreme Court ruling wouldn’t just keep this particular lawsuit alive.
It could make other powerful online stores — or, in Reuters’ less-charitable estimation, “toll-keepers” — more accountable toward their users.