It Has Been 229 Days Since the AirPower Charging Mat Was Announced

My Twitter timeline has been full of speculation about when the AirPower mat is likely to ship and whether its launch is technically delayed. Here is, I think, a better question: why do we know about this product at all?

Back when the HomePod’s delayed release date was announced, I wondered about a similar thing:

The announcement of this product at WWDC has confused me from the start. Some reports have compared the HomePod’s delay to that of the AirPods but, while the shipping delay on the latter product was regrettable, its announcement alongside the iPhone 7 — the first iPhone without a headphone jack — made complete sense. It finished the story.

This, though, is just bizarre. All things considered, a delay of about a month and a half isn’t terrible. But what difference would there have been if Apple had announced the HomePod when it was ready and simply pending regulatory approval? I don’t see any reason why the HomePod had to be announced at WWDC last June.

I see echoes of that announcement in that of the AirPower. Why was it announced alongside the iPhones 8 and the iPhone X? What story does it complete? It can’t be the inductive charging story: surely the entire point of using the Qi standard was that there were already loads of charging mats on the market that you could buy — Phil Schiller said as much during that keynote. So what’s the advantage in letting us know about the AirPower far in advance of when it would be available?

Imagine an alternate universe where the AirPower and the wireless charging case for the AirPods weren’t announced until, say, the opening keynote of WWDC this year with same-day availability. Sure, buyers of iPhones and Apple Watches that were released last year would have to suffer through several tedious months of wondering why Apple didn’t make their own charging pad because many of the ones out there right now aren’t very good, but the reaction to its then-immediate availability would have been a classic example of underpromising and overdelivering.

Contrast that with the more testy and impatient reaction reflected by Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider:

Nobody but Apple can get away with such a long period of time between announcement and shipping. Narratives spin out of control in the interim, predicting doom and gloom which is nearly never warranted to the magnitude that’s on display.

There’s probably a great reason why the AirPower and compatible AirPods case haven’t yet been released. They’re probably going to be good products, too. But I don’t see any reason why we should be aware now that they’re on the way.