You go to Starbucks for two reasons: to buy coffee (the "freshly baked goods" are almost always stale) and to use the free Wi-Fi. But soon, you'll be able to add another reason to go visit Starbucks: to charge your gadgets.
Two years after an intial trial run in Boston, Starbucks is teaming up with Duracell Powermat to install wireless charging stations in its coffee shops. Instead of hunting for a free outlet (I've never seen one), customers will only have to find a table with an integrated charging station and then place their compatible device on it to recharge it.
It sounds like a fantastic idea, not just to get more foot traffic into its stores, but to push wireless charging further along. But there's just one problem that could screw up Starbucks' wireless charging ambitions.
The charging stations Starbucks plans to install on the west coast this year and in stores in major cities in 2015 use the PMA standard, short for Power Matters Alliance. While the wireless charging standard is supported by Samsung, LG, AT&T, BlackBerry, HTC and Huawei, it's not compatible with Qi, the other wireless charging standard that a lot of other smartphones use. PMA is also incompatible with a third standard called Rezence, which is backed by Qualcomm and Samsung (yeah, Samsung backs two different standards…).
In a nutshell, there is no universal wireless charging standard, which is probably why Apple hasn't joined any side. iPhone users will also be left out of the whole wireless charging hoopla at Starbucks if they don't purchase a special Duracell PowerCase.
Starbucks has a big hill to climb. As amazing as wireless charging is, most people don't know that there are different wireless charging standards. I'm willing to bet that there will be a lot of people scratching their heads wondering why their smartphone with one kind of built-in wireless standard won't work on the PMA charging stations in Starbucks. Hopefully Starbucks installs some other wireless charging stations with Qi and Rezence, too.