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Summary:

Customers in two trial areas must have drank up enough wireless charging juice to satisfy Starbucks: The coffee house will include recharging mats in all of its U.S. stores in a continued partnership with Powermat.

Starbucks Powermat charging
photo: Starbucks

After a two-city trial that started last year, Starbucks is adding in-store wireless charging for customers’ phones throughout all of its nearly 13,000 U.S. locations. Announced on Thursday, the expansion is now starting with stores in major markets to have the wireless charging stations in place by 2015. Just as it did in the trial, Starbucks is partnering with Duracell Powermat for the technology.

Powermat charging

According to the news release: “Stores will be equipped with ‘Powermat Spots’ — designated areas on tables and counters where customers can place their compatible device and charge wirelessly. Select Starbucks stores in Boston and San Jose offer Powermat today and the broader rollout can be tracked at www.powermat.com/locations.”

As I noted when the trial started last year, very few phones that come with wireless charging capabilities out of the box are compatible with Powermat, which is part of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). With very few exceptions most phones and tablets that can be charged without wires use the Qi standard, backed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). That doesn’t mean your phone will need a power outlet at Starbucks, however.

Apple sells cases that add Powermat’s wireless charging technology to the iPhone, for example. Powermat also sells a compatible backplate for the Samsung Galaxy S3. But there are hundreds of phones that aren’t supported natively or through an add-on accessory. Starbucks and Powermat have a solution for that, though.

Powermat circles

Small ring-like inserts that can accept a wireless charge and pass it through a phone’s USB or lightning port will be sold, Powermat President Daniel Schreiber told The Verge. So you can plug in one of those so you don’t have to plug in — to an outlet, that is.

While the Powermat implementation isn’t the most prominent in phones today, the Starbuck deal could influence future devices thanks to the large footprint of stores in the U.S. Each one should have at least 10 charging spots for customers. And AT&T, which has been offering phones with the Qi standard, said last year that it would be adding handsets that use the PMA standards.

At least we can enjoy a cup of coffee while we wait for a single standard on the juice in our phones.

  1. I’m not familiar with a wireless charging counter? Where does the power come from and who pays for it?
    Leslie

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    1. Basically a small mat is integrated into the counter, table or bar area of a Starbucks. That mat is wired to a power source and is paid for (typically) by the retailer. You then place your phone on the charging spot and it will recharge wirelessly.

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      1. There has to be a drain of energy and someone has to pay for that. So can we expect the price of a coffee to climb?
        Leslie

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        1. Sure there’s a drain but customers already plug devices into outlets at Starbucks to charge them. And there’s no direct cost to do so; this is for convenience which could drive more customers into the stores, add more purchases, etc…. The company already offers free Wi-Fi in the stores for this reason.

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        2. I should add: the cost to charge a phone is about $2 a year. Adding these charging mats isn’t going to boost Starbuck’s utility bills in a meaningful way.

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  2. And to think that Palm had already mastered wireless charging back in 2008 with the Prē and the Pixi.

    Not sure why Apple, Samsung, LG and others haven’t caught up on what was a terrific feature.

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  3. Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    Looking forward to a cordless future. Still let’s hope the battery life on the next iPhone leaves us without need for any chargers during the workday. I don’t mind charging every night, but anything more is an inconvenience.

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