Elon Musk chose to start a fight with Apple at the end of last month. After a million years, Tesla has come out with a $300 wireless charging mat with some of the same features that Apple’s AirPower was supposed to have.
AirPower was based on a simple idea: a mat that could wirelessly charge up to three devices without moving the coils around to find the right spot. Apple fans were hoping to get the device in 2017, and when it didn’t come out, they didn’t know what was going on until 2019, when the company said it was no longer going to make it. Apple said, “After a lot of work, we’ve decided that AirPower won’t meet our high standards, so we’re ending the project.”
It was a little strange that Apple, which had a lot of money and smart people, couldn’t figure out how to do something that seemed pretty easy. So it seems likely that Elon is giving Apple a little bit of a hard time by announcing Tesla’s Wireless Charging Platform on Thursday.
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Unfortunately, this is just a very expensive repackaging of a charging system that has been around for a few years. Tesla is using FreePower’s technology, making it look a bit like a Cybertruck. FreePower lets other companies use its design for position-free wireless charging, which is used in devices like the Nomad Base Station Pro that get good reviews. Most people say it does what it says it does. Drop a device anywhere on the mat, and it will quickly charge at 15W. You can even move the device around without the connection breaking.
In its 2020 review of the Nomad Base Station, the Verge said that while it “may be the future of wireless charging technology,” the current version is too expensive and doesn’t do enough. At the time, you could buy that thing for $229. Nomad doesn’t make that model anymore but refurbished versions are still for sale on its website for $120.
Even though FreePower seems to have solved the problem of where to put a wireless charger, you still can’t just put your Apple Watch on the mat. These chargers only work with Qi-compatible devices, and the Apple Watch needs either the magnetic puck that came with it or a MagSafe charger.
So, Tesla hasn’t met the goal that Apple originally set (charging an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time), it didn’t invent the technology, and it’s charging a ridiculous amount of money for its mat.
I can’t say for sure that the whole point of this launch was to irritate Tim Cook. Musk could have just wanted to get some good news about Tesla. The company’s stock price that makes electric vehicles (EVs) hit a new two-year low on Friday, as investors’ worries about Musk’s obsession with Twitter reached a boiling point.
There are two big problems at Tesla: Elon keeps selling off billions of dollars worth of stock, and the people who are most likely to buy an electric car are turned off by his right-wing politics (liberals and people who believe in climate change).
This week, Tesla started giving a $7,500 discount on two models. This has only made investors even more worried.
A charging mat that costs too much won’t change Tesla’s luck, but if you want one, you can pre-order it here, and shipments should start in February. Remember that charging is like giving a roofing torch a fresh coat of paint and calling it a flamethrower.
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