Powermat has a deal to roll out charging stations in select Starbucks in San Francisco and New York.
Enabling your smartphone so it can rest on the table and get an instant power charge without the fuss of cables seems like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want that feature, right?
But the realities of wireless charging have been anything but. If your smartphone happens to have the capability, there’s a good chance it may not work with the charging station at Starbucks. And iPhone and iPad users are out of luck — Apple refuses to embrace the feature.
Now you can add legal infighting among board members of a key wireless-charging company to the list of reasons why you probably won’t be able to top off your smartphone at the local coffee shop.
Three board members of Powermat Technologies sued the company and CEO Thorsten Heins in late October, arguing that Heins is operating without an approved budget and steering the business into insolvency, according to legal papers filed in Israel and reviewed by CNET. Powermat, meanwhile, called the complaint “deficient, biased, distorted and deceptive” in a response also reviewed by CNET.
When asked to comment, Powermat pointed CNET to the company’s response.
The legal drama comes as things were starting to look up for wireless charging. Over the past year, Israel-based Powermat had managed to expand the number of charging locations sevenfold, to 1,400. Samsung incorporated its technology into flagship smartphones like the Galaxy S6, and it heavily promotes the feature. Powermat had also settled a long-standing rivalry with another wireless-charging group, igniting the potential for more compatibility between devices and charging stations.
The lawsuit, which seeks to restrict Powermat from proceeding with its current budget, may halt, even temporarily, any momentum for the embrace of wireless charging. That could slow the company’s push to create a more commonly accepted standard for wireless charging, putting the technology in more mobile products and bolstering the number of charging stations.
It’s another headache for Powermat CEO Heins, who most notably tried, and failed, to turn around smartphone maker BlackBerry.
Heins filed his own affidavit dismissing the accusations and defending his actions.
“It is clear that the accusations the petitioners are making against me and my management team are baseless,” he said in the affidavit.
The lawsuit, meanwhile, alleges a “serious trust crisis” in the company’s board that worsens every day.
Adding to the drama, one of the board members suing Powermat is Ran Poliakine, founder, former chairman and CEO of the company. Last year, Poliakine had volunteered to step down and take a reduced role amid investor pressure, which was part of an agreement that led to the hiring of Heins.
He’s clearly being more active now.