When Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced its 2017 iPhone lineup, it also teased a wireless charging accessory dubbed AirPower. Although wireless charging mats are ubiquitous, Apple's take on the product was substantially more ambitious. As advertised, AirPower would let users place multiple Apple devices on the device simultaneously, with significantly more freedom of physical positioning than other wireless charging mats allow.
But while Apple had told customers to expect this product to launch in 2018, the year came and went with little more than rumors and reports that Apple was struggling mightily to bring AirPower into production. Some had quite sensibly believed that the product had been canned.
However, according to a tweet from ChargerLab, citing a "credible source in the supply chain," AirPower isn't just in the works; it's gone into mass production.
While that won't be a game changer for Apple stock, here's why investors should nonetheless cheer this development.
We don't yet know how Apple will price AirPower, but if it works as previously advertised, it will be quite a differentiated product that the company should be able to charge a serious premium for. Assuming that, and assuming a reasonable portion of those with iPhone 8 and newer devices purchases one, then Apple could be looking at a decent amount of incremental revenue for its wearables, home, and accessories business segment.
Most of the iPhones Apple sells today incorporate wireless charging capability, since that feature is included in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, XR, XS, and XS Max. Only the company's lowest-end iPhones, the 7 and 7 Plus, don't support that capability. If Apple releases AirPower soon, then consumers trying to decide between the older and cheaper iPhone 7-series smartphones and newer products might be more interested in going with the newer devices so that they can at some point take advantage of AirPower.
I don't think this is something that'll fundamentally reshape Apple's iPhone product mix, but given that the iPhone business is currently struggling, every little bit helps.
The fact that Apple promised AirPower in 2018 and then exited the year without a peep about the device isn't a good look. Delays are never good -- not only do they mean that products don't get into customers' hands sooner, meaning lost or delayed revenue, but they also give the impression of execution issues, which can hurt both consumer and investor perceptions.
By bringing this product to market rather than giving up on it, Apple can save some face.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.