Apple’s decision to buy a New Zealand company that makes wireless charging technology might seem curious, given the recent introduction of new iPhones that include similar features. While it could be tempting to see the acquisition of PowerbyProxi as an acqui-hire, in fact it may be an indicator that Apple is hoping to make wireless charging a part of future versions of the MacBook and iPad.
Apple took the unusual step of actually confirming that it had bought PowerbyProxi for an undisclosed sum. The New Zealand website Stuff first reported the acquisition and quoted Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering Dan Riccio as saying that PowerbyProxi’s team would be “a great addition as Apple works to create a wireless future.” In addition, Riccio said: “We want to bring truly effortless charging to more places and more customers around the world.”
In early September, Apple showed off the new iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X, which allow wireless charging using a technology based on a standard known as “Qi.” Apple has also said it would introduce a charging gadget that lets users wirelessly charge these iPhones, as well as their Apple Watch and AirPods.
The company has yet to say how powerful the charging capability will be. Current third-party solutions could eventually allow a capacity of 7.5 watts.
But the PowerbyProxi lineup of products includes versions that support wireless charging for industrial uses, with up to 150 watts of capacity in some cases. For Apple, that could mean an expanded capacity that would allow for charging of MacBooks and its largest iPads.
Don’t hold your breathe, of course. Designing new versions of these products to include wireless charging capability isn’t going to happen overnight. Most likely, such features are years away.
Still, given that Apple was seen as a latecomer to wireless charging, the company seems to be moving aggressively to catch up — enough to buy a startup whose largest investors include Samsung Ventures, no doubt giving a rival a nice payday.