Apple Cancels AirPower

Posted on March 29, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple Watch, iOS, Mobile, Music + Videos with 101 Comments

In an unexpected twist, Apple has canceled its long-delayed AirPower wireless charger, citing quality problems.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project,” Apple senior vice president Dan Riccio says in a prepared statement. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”

Apple announced the AirPower wireless charging mat in September 2017, alongside the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus, and said that it would release the device sometime in 2018. That never happened, though a report in mid-2018 noted that the device would be delayed until the second half of the year.

Then that didn’t happen, and the 2018 holiday season came and went with no word—let alone no product—from Apple. In January, there were rumors that production had begun. Then, code in the beta version of recently-released iOS 12 suggested a release was imminent.

So that’s obviously not happening now. And it’s unclear exactly what the problem was, though I find Apple’s statement above a bit contorted, as if the AirPower had somehow let down the company.

I guess it was a hard computer science problem.

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Comments (101)

101 responses to “Apple Cancels AirPower”

  1. Richardsona39

    [Checks date....hmmm not April 1]

  2. MikeGalos

    That's what happens when sales and marketing announce a product that engineering hasn't even begun to figure out how to make.

    Vaporware in its purest form and hopefully the basis for some massive class-action lawsuits from people who bought iPhones and other Apple products in part based on their compatibility with this non-existent "product".

  3. mikecolon

    "I guess it was a hard computer science problem." - I LOL'd at that!

  4. alwayson

    Imagine my disappointment today after receiving my new AirPods with charging case yesterday.

  5. MikeGalos

    Well, at least we have fewer choices left in the "Which will ship first? AirPower or the new Mac Pro".

  6. red.radar

    An embarrassment that could have been avoided if you announce the product when it’s ready.

    I got the impression that engineering heard about the product at the keynote with the rest of the world ... “we got to do what ...!?!? “

  7. locust infested orchard inc

    Article headline, "Apple Cancels AirPower"

    So it would seem the iFlatulence has become deflated. More hot air from Apple.

    Much ado about nothing.

  8. j_c

    I get it. Apple is smug and arrogant and when they fail at these things it’s fun to watch. With that said what % of products have they announced that have never shipped and how does that compare to the % debuted by other companies every year at CES that never make it to market?

    It seems like this was a product they thought would be easy to mass produce cheaply and sell for big profit. It wasn’t. They have lost interest in trying to make it work and have moved on. The “high quality” statement seems like a petulant public corporate slight at either the internal team or the manufacturers who couldn’t make it happen. The “this is the future” the final little dig to let them know just how bad they should feel about it.

    • JerryH

      In reply to j_c:

      Well comparing companies showing off things at CES to a company getting up on a stage at their own release event and showing the thing off and even having a picture of it in the little guide in the box for the Airpods is quite different. The first (CES) is normal business - people use it to gauge interest and decide if they want to go forward with development. The second is a big fail.

  9. nbplopes

    Mike brains seam to be quite active on this one :) Yay :)

  10. wright_is

    A hard computer science problem that Nokia solved nearly a decade ago...

  11. harmjr

    Poor Brad Sams...

  12. MutualCore

    If this were Microsoft, the tech media would be dancing on their grave. Apple, nobody cares. They're already hyping up the iPhone Xi with 3 cameras.

  13. gregsedwards

    What am I missing here? Aren’t there like a zillion Qi wireless charging products out there? What was the killer feature that proved too difficult for Apple to crack?

    • Daekar

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      They wanted to make it WAY more difficult to manufacture than necessary for minimal gain in function. All modern chargers work in any's why they're round. Our Samsung chargers even work with the phone standing in portrait or landscape mode on the stand, so no matter how you lay down your phone it still works.

    • rob_segal

      In reply to gregsedwards:

      Overheating because of the number of coils Apple wanted to include in the charging pad so devices could charge anywhere in the pad facing any direction. Up to a couple dozen coils generates quite a bit of heat.

  14. provision l-3

    It's a bummer the product got canned it seemed like a good idea.

  15. Pbike908

    Sounds like apple is taking a cue from the "dump bad news on Friday afternoon" that has long been a favorite of DC politicos to minimize bad PR...

  16. Daekar

    So... what the hell, Apple? You finally started selling phones with wireless charging two whole years ago and still don't have chargers available? Samsung had this down 5 or more generations ago. I've got Samsung chargers, including two that have charging points for a phone standing upright and a wearable next to it, scattered throughout my house and workplace that have been reliably charging phones of various brands (including my iPhone 8) for years.

    The future is wireless, and some of us have been living it for a good while now. Get your shit together or get left behind. If Samsung doesn't eat your lunch, Huawei will.

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to Daekar:

      Hauwei probably would if US regulators weren't so xenophobic towards them. I do get not wanting to let a state run company supply your backbone networking gear. But the consumer space I'm guessing isn't a huge deal.

      If I had to choose between a current gen MacBook or the Hauwei Matebook Pro (remove the OS from the discussion) I'd take the Matebook every day of the week at this point.

      • Daekar

        In reply to rmlounsbury:

        Lord, you're not spouting that ridiculous xenophobia line too, are you? Jesus, people, just because you hear a lie repeated frequently it doesn't make it true, especially when there are SO many other possible explanations that make much more sense.

        Think, please.

        • cheetahdriver

          In reply to Daekar:

          Yeah, you don't KNOW either. There is enough smoke around this (not just from US sources) for me to think "Fire". It might not be the fire we have been told about, it might just be they are incompetent enough at fixing things (see the British report) that it simply isn't safe to use them. Or they might be leaving the backdoors open on purpose.

          Who knows? More importantly, why take the chance when the damn F-35 requires Internet Explorer 11 to run ALIS. If we aren't careful, we are going to be running around figuring out how quickly we can un-mothball the Rhino fleet at Davis-Monthain after all the high tech crap that has been foistered on the Air Force suffers a "Cylon Kill" from the Chinese.

          • wright_is

            In reply to cheetahdriver:

            Yes, the reported back-door in the F35 systems last week was, well, interesting.

            Everything from ordering parts that aren't needed, getting the flight systems to report failed components, taking over the flight controls, stopping takeoffs... Hopefully they can't turn off the avionics mid-flight.

          • Daekar

            In reply to cheetahdriver:

            I think you misread my post. I didn't say they were or were not trustworthy, and I have regularly lamented our inability to know the facts. I simply think it's batshit crazy to blame the behavior of the federal government on racism when there are much more likely and rational explanations for their policy posture

      • Xatom

        In reply to rmlounsbury:

        Let me fix this for you. Hauwei would if the US and other governments concluded having spying devices produced by the Chinese state intelligence apparatus in the hands of every citizen was a good thing.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to Daekar:

      Palm sold wireless chargers for the Pre back in 2009.

    • wocowboy

      In reply to Daekar:

      There are dozens of quite capable wireless chargers available, from a myriad of manufacturers, and in a myriad of form factors, so there really was no need for Apple to come out with one of their own. Apple can pick and choose what markets they want to be a part of, what they should do is be a bit more particular of what they pre-announce as "coming soon". This has gotten plenty of other manufacturers bad press when they could not or never did release said products. I know some people want to jump on this as some sort of HUGE EPIC failure by Apple, but truth is, it's not that at all. Not every prototype makes it out of the lab, and Airpower was one of those, simple enough.

  17. ruusterc

    so is this the time when apple calls microsoft to find out where they buried the surface mini so they can share the same hole because they were manufacturing these from all reports

  18. codymesh

    the first phone with wireless charging Lumia 920 announced in 2012, i'm surprised that wireless charging appears to have made almost zero advancements since then.

  19. Jeff.Bane

    They could not make a charging pad work in a subscription model.

  20. shameermulji

    "I guess it was a hard computer science problem."

    It was a hard physics problem, as in it could potentially burn-your-house-down problem. What Apple was trying to accomplish with AirPower, no one else has solved yet.

  21. skane2600

    At least they have been smart enough not to announce a ARM-based Mac otherwise they might be going down this road again.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to skane2600:

      I would imagine this one is going to happen. It's seems pretty obviously on the horizon.

      • skane2600

        In reply to provision l-3:

        Could be, but it almost seems like it would be a strategy to kill the Mac. Or would it be just a way to save a few dollars that wouldn't be passed on to their customers? It's hard to imagine any benefit it would have for Mac users.

        • provision l-3

          In reply to skane2600:

          Apple has done a good job of improving the performance of their ARM based processors year over year and I don't think it is unreasonable to think they will be able to match Intel when it comes to desktop computing in the next five or so years. The benefit of switching to their own processors would be in designing the hardware and software together much like moved to making their own processors for iOS. If there is a technical benefit for doing it or it allows them to provide some feature they otherwise couldn't they will.

          • skane2600

            In reply to provision l-3:

            While there is a question about whether the performance of the ARM chips will measure up to Intel, that isn't the main problem IMO. There's no identifiable advantage to users in making the switch and potentially significant disadvantages for legacy users. As I described it isn't necessarily advantageous to developers either.

            While it's conceivable that an advantage could be derived from making both the CPU and the other hardware, tightly coupling hardware systems that serve different purposes has a downside too. Separation of concerns can be relevant to hardware as well as software.

            • provision l-3

              In reply to skane2600:

              I get the concern around legacy users and developers. Apple has successfully navigated this in the past with the move from classic OS to Mac OS X and then from PowerPC to Intel. The PowerPC to Intel was pretty seamless from a user perspective and Apple did a bit of work to make it easier for developers. I would assume they would more or less repeat that approach.

              • skane2600

                In reply to provision l-3:

                It's not clear if the conditions today are sufficiently similar to those of the PowerPC to Intel transition time-frame to result in success. That transition started 2 years before the iPhone and the eventual dominance of apps. Investing in another transition, might not seem to be a good move on the part of legacy developers this time around.

                Despite any legacy issues, the PowerPC to Intel transaction was clearly of benefit to users. It allowed a higher-performing laptop without the heating issues of the Power PC. It also eventually lead to allowing Windows programs to run on a Mac.

                • provision l-3

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  I'm not sure what the transition has to do with the iPhone in the slightest. I am also not arguing that it is a good move or that it will be successful should Apple do it. What I am saying is that if Apple sees a clear benefit in doing it (performance improvements or the ability to implement features they can't with intel) then they likely will do it. Apple has a history of doing this. Given the amount of money and work Apple has put into its own chip development I think it would be reasonable to assume they are at least exploring the option.

                  To me that their current trajectory is toward making that kind of change but I'm completely guessing. I think it's safe to assume you disagree with my guess.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to provision l-3:

                  The point was made earlier that part of the value of this transition was that it would combine iOS and Mac OS and noted that less new development was happening on the Mac presumably in favor of developing for iOS instead. In that context, the iPhone is quite relevant to the discussion since it was the start of iOS apps. The point is that the value of the Mac market may be diminished today relative to the last transition when there was no iOS to compete with.

        • shameermulji

          In reply to skane2600:

          Why would transitioning the Mac to an custom ARM-based processor kill the Mac? I say the opposite. By doing that it unifies Apple's development platform around UIKit + ARM. That benefits developers because it makes development of "universal" apps easier and it's great for customers because they can easily download apps that will run on macOS / iOS => pay once / run anywhere.

          And yes, I realize MS had the same strategy in mind with UWP apps but that didn't work out for them because they dropped the ball with respect to mobile devices which is where most of the action is right now.

          • skane2600

            In reply to shameermulji:

            Running "anywhere" will be a compromised experience at best as it always has been and always will be. If Apple wanted to implement a "pay once" scheme for iOS and Mac programs with the same name, they don't need to link them at the binary level. Doing so is a marketing and financial issue, not a technical one.

            Obviously for a brand new platform, developers are key (along with a viable market, of course) but for a mature platform like the Mac with no lack of first-class programs, it's the users who are key. From a user's perspective, the minimal requirement for an ARM-based Mac would be that all existing programs run at full speed and future updates would work transparently as well. This is unlikely to be achieved.

            From a legacy developer's perspective, an ARM-based Mac would be problematic since there would have to be two versions of the product, an ARM-based one for new Macs and an Intel-based one for the large existing customer base.

            IMO it would be hard to find a non-mobile-oriented iOS app that didn't already have a similar program on the Mac that was superior. In the other direction, it's hard to imagine a sophisticated Mac program that can be as effective and easy to use as it is now when ported to iOS devices.

            Form-factor matters, Legacy matters.

            • shameermulji

              In reply to skane2600:

              "If Apple wanted to implement a "pay once" scheme for iOS and Mac programs with the same name, they don't need to link them at the binary level. Doing so is a marketing and financial issue, not a technical one."

              They'r already going down that path with Project Marzipan


              "Obviously for a brand new platform, developers are key (along with a viable market, of course) but for a mature platform like the Mac with no lack of first-class programs, it's the users who are key. "

              I agree there are many first-class applications on the Mac but the Mac is suffering the same problems as Windows 10 => hardly any developer is creating NEW native Mac or Win32 apps. Vast majority are just updates or new versions of existing apps

              • skane2600

                In reply to shameermulji:

                The lack of new development suggests that most of the functionality users need is already been implemented, but ARM won't change that whether it's on Windows or the Mac. IMO, iOS offers nothing that Mac users need.

                Let mobile be mobile and desktop be desktop. There's no need to try to combine them.

          • Greg Green

            In reply to shameermulji:

            ARM is nowhere powerful enough to run a good desktop. But Apple has been putting old CPUs in their systems for so long, maybe it's a strategy to get users used to ARM in desktops and laptops.

  22. blackcomb

    Timmy can't do anything! LMFAO!!!

  23. rmlounsbury

    They probably finally figured out and knew the price they had to charge based on the R&D and cost to build the thing would never work and consumers would be smart enough to pass. So rather than put out a loss leader (because Apple likes to print money with their hardware) they just killed it all together.

    This doesn't surprise me at all that Air Power never came to market.

  24. prabhat_800

    Oh that's very bad news. I have this now what I have to do?

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