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Nokia reinvigorates Wireless Power Consortium

Without using any wires, obviously

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The world's largest mobile-phone manufacturer has joined the Wireless Power Consortium, giving the organisation some much-needed credibility to go with its new logo.

Wireless power remains a solution looking for a problem, but now at least it has Nokia joining in the search for a reason to exist with the Consortium's chair heralding Nokia's membership as a "new dimension", but even the Finns will have a hard time convincing us that we need wireless charging.

The announcement is important for the Consortium, which has been dusting off its logo and arguing its case. Last week a new white paper came out arguing that punters are desperate for the inductive-charging technologies that the Wireless Power Consortium is ideally placed to provide.

Unfortunately the arguments in the paper are based on the fact that users want a single charging solution, which is true. But Micro USB has already been adopted as that single standard even if it's still only used on a handful of devices today.

Users might like the idea of wireless charging, and it is a nice concept, but that's not enough - users need to like it enough to spend £44.11 on the Palm Pre's Touchstone wireless charger, not to mention the $200 Dell is asking for the wireless charger for its latest Latitude laptop.

Most wireless charging systems replace the back panel with an inductive coil, or provide a case that wraps around the device and connects to its existing socket - the PowerMat wrap for the iPhone, ready for UK launch later this month, is typical at $40 plus $100 for the charging mat.

So that's $140 to avoid having to plug in your iPhone, which you'll have to do to synchronise your iTunes anyway - you've got to really hate plugs to shell out that kind of money.

Phones are, of course, packed full of technology that users never asked for, but for the most part they've not been asked to pay for it either - at least not at the point of sale. Cameras were embedded to sell Multimedia Messaging, while Bluetooth helps the bottom line through headset sales. Shops might make a few quid selling charging mats but it's hard to imagine them lobbying operators to mandate the technology (as they did for Bluetooth).

So Nokia has joined the Consortium, which is a significant endorsement, but unless Nokia suddenly embedded Qi technology into hundreds of handset models wireless charging will remain cool-but-pointless and expensive, unless Apple decides to get involved of course. ®

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