Apple ended 2018 with a rare product launch miss

Key Points
  • Apple promised to launch its wireless charger, AirPower, in 2018, but it never did.
  • AirPower was announced in September 2017 and promised for this year, but almost all mentions of the product have been removed from Apple's website.
  • AirPower would let users charge their iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch wirelessly.
  • Reports suggest AirPower was overheating.
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple launch event in the Brooklyn borough of New York, October 30, 2018. 
Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

Apple never launched AirPower, a product it said would arrive in 2018.

If you're not familiar, Apple announced a product at its September 2017 iPhone event called "AirPower" that was supposed to let iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods owners wirelessly charge all three devices at the same time. Apple said it would launch in 2018, but it never did.

It's a rare miss for Apple, which typically has a good track record of following through on product announcements.

During each of its events this year — one in March where it announced new iPads, its developer conference in June, the annual iPhone event in September and a Mac event in October — Apple failed to mention AirPower or its status.

CNBC even tried asking Apple at the iPhone launch this September if it planned to talk about AirPower publicly, but a representative said that the day's events were only focused on the products discussed on stage — the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR — and not other devices.


Mysteriously, Apple began pulling all mention of AirPower from its website after the September 2018 iPhone event. Around that time, plugged-in Apple writer John Gruber, suggested that AirPower was facing overheating problems and may have been "scrubbed." That means AirPower was getting too hot while trying to charge three devices at the same time.

"There are engineers who looked at AirPower's design and said it could never work, thermally. ... I think they've either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they've decided to give up and they just don't want to say so," Gruber said at the time.

AirPower would have been promising for people who buy lots of Apple products. Instead of needing to plug in an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods, all three could just be dropped onto a pad and charged wirelessly. For AirPods, Apple would have needed to launch a new wireless charging case, which still may be included in an updated model in the future.

Apple has been open about pushing for wireless accessories in recent years. The company removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 in 2016, as it started promoting its wireless earbuds, AirPods. The company added wireless charging to its new iPhone models the following year.

At this point, it seems likely AirPower has been canceled or indefinitely delayed. An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

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