New York - Procter & Gamble's battery unit Duracell and Powermat have announced a joint venture, Duracell Powermat, which will develop and market wireless charging solutions using Powermat technology.
The deal gives Powermat an undisclosed sum of cash and a 45 percent interest in the venture. Proctor & Gamble will retain a controlling 55 percent of the operation, which will co-develop and market wireless charging devices under the Duracell Powermat brand using Powermat's proprietary inductive coupling charging technology. P&G will also make an equity investment in Powermat.
Duracell currently markets its own line of wireless chargers under the myGrid name, using "an older technology," said Powermat president Daniel Schreiber. "That technology will be retired," he added, presumably along with the myGrid product line.
The deal puts Duracell in charge of all Powermat products for the consumer market. Powermat will continue to pursue OEM deals, such as one announced with General Motors earlier this year, to incorporate Powermat charging pads into vehicle interiors. 2013 model year Chevy Volts will be the first vehicles to include the built-in wireless charging pads, which will be located in between the front seats. Schreiber said the company continues to have OEM talks with other suppliers, including "key automakers and handset vendors."
Schrieber said Powermat will also continue to expand the rollout of its technology into public spaces, such as major airports and transportation hubs. The company is also working with office furniture and major appliance manufacturers to include the technology in future products.
The venture will formally launch in early 2012, using Powermat's technology initially, Schrieber told TWICE. The deal is non-exclusive, however, meaning other technologies, including the rival Qi standard, developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), may be incorporated into future products. Duracell has been a member of the WPC since its inception in 2009. Powermat joined the WPC in May.
Other members of the WPC include Energizer, HTC, LG, Nokia, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.
IHS iSuppli has estimated that the worldwide retail market for wireless charging, at around $100 million is 2010, may reach north of $20 billion by 2015, including the OEM market.
"Powermat and P&G joining forces makes so much sense," said Marijana Vukicevic, senior principal analyst at iSuppli. "Adoption of wireless power is growing fast, and the marriage of a proven technology like Powermat's with the global marketing muscles of P&G promises to propel consumer adoption faster yet."
Schreiber concurred. "Procter & Gamble has been one of the most successful consumer product companies in the world over the last 30 years," he said. "When they looked at the next 30 years and tried to identify consumer demand, wireless charging was one technology that came out on top. They were the perfect partner to advance Powermat's vision of ubiquitous wireless power to reality."
Ran Poliakine, Powermat CEO, said in a statement: "Alkaline batteries, led by Duracell, really were one of the first wireless power sources to gain worldwide adoption by the consumer. The promise of wireless power is similarly transformational, and there is no partner more capable than Duracell -- and its parent, P&G."
"Several decades ago, Duracell was a pioneer in a new revolutionary product category, alkaline round cell batteries," said Stassi Anastassov, Duracell president, in a statement. "In a not-too-distant future, we expect wireless power solutions to eliminate the hassle of multiple cords and chargers, creating a major growth opportunity. Innovation to create new solutions that touch and improve people's lives is what P&G-Duracell are all about. The joint venture between Duracell and Powermat puts us in the driver seat for this disruptive category creation."