To get a sense of what companies are working on, I like to poke around in the various job listings they have up on their websites. In particular, I noticed something interesting on the jobs section of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) website that gives us a glimpse of what might be next for the company's popular iDevices.
Wireless charging, anybody?
Look at the following job opening, straight from Apple's website:
It's pretty clear that Apple plans to bring wireless charging to its "next-generation mobile platforms," which I take to mean its iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and even its MacBook families of products.
Why is wireless charging a big deal?
Wireless charging has been around for quite some time, but I expect that adoption of the technology is set to accelerate in the years ahead. The Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Galaxy S6, which is expected to begin shipping April 10, has wireless charging built in, and given how highly competitive the smartphone market is, I expect others to follow in short order.
Indeed, according to research firm IHS (via CNET), wireless-charging related revenue is looking to come in at just $1.7 billion this year, but it's expected to balloon to "nearly $15 billion" by 2024.
The question one might ask, then, is, "Why is wireless charging such a big deal?"
Well, for one thing, it's just more convenient. CNET put it very nicely: "Historically, mobile-device owners have been forced to plug their products into a charger to refresh a battery. Wireless charging, however, ditches the cord and allows users to simply rest their device atop a charging pad to add juice."
However, there are other reasons wireless charging could be a big deal for smartphones such as the iPhone. Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM) CEO Scott McGregor, speaking at a recent investor conference, was keen to point out that wireless charging has another big benefit in addition to convenience.
Waterproof devices for everybody?
By eliminating the need to plug in a cord to charge the device, McGregor said that wireless charging could allow for smart devices to be hermetically sealed, making them waterproof.
According to a 2012 report from Worth Ave. Group (via TheStreet), "80% of iPhone failures are due to accidental damage." The leading cause, said the report, is water damage, which was the cause of 40% of iPhone failures.
When will we see wireless charging in Apple's devices?
In an article published in Computer World, Lucas Mearian interviewed IDC mobile-phone analyst William Stofega. According to Stofega, Apple is probably waiting to see which wireless charging standard becomes, well, the standard before adopting it.
Further, Stofega noted that when Apple adopts wireless charging, it will probably bring something unique and differentiated to its solution. Mearian used the example of how Apple added tokenization to its NFC technology "to make it more secure."
My guess is that an iPhone with wireless charging capability isn't too far out. I'm not expecting it to show up with this year's iPhone, although I wouldn't be surprised to see it -- but I would be surprised if Apple didn't include wireless charging as part of the 2016 iPhone.
Ashraf Eassa has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.