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Originally published June 11, 2014 at 9:03 PM | Page modified June 12, 2014 at 9:48 AM

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Starbucks stores to offer wireless charging for smartphones

The coffee giant is expected to announce Thursday the rollout of wireless charging stations on tabletops and counters across its U.S. empire by 2015.


Seattle Times business reporter

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I thought the $1.92 for my drip coffee covered that. No? Couldn't Howie finance this out of the blood money he got in... MORE

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Smartphones, too, will someday be able to get a jolt at Starbucks.

The coffee giant is expected to announce Thursday the rollout of wireless charging stations on tabletops and counters across its U.S. empire. The joint effort with Duracell Powermat has begun in the San Francisco Bay Area and is expected to reach other major markets in 2015.

Eventually all Starbucks stores operated by the company, as well as its Teavana tea bars, will offer wireless charging, the company said.

The move comes in the midst of a major bid by Starbucks to draw people into its stores at different times of the day-- and not only for coffee, but breakfast, lunch and tea time, and in some locations, wine and beer in the evenings.

It also highlights Starbucks’ knack for harnessing information technology trends to its advantage. The coffee chain was one of the first widespread adopters of WiFi, and recently it has eagerly embraced smartphone payments, which it has sought to weave into a comprehensive program of rewards and gift cards.

The company also made a significant investment in Square, a mobile payment start-up.

In a time of increasingly power-hungry, feature-rich smartphones that often leave their owners in the lurch, an expanding network of wireless charging stations is likely to strike a chord; it might also reduce the urge to fight over a rare power outlet at Starbucks.

The roll-out follows an experiment that started in 2012 in Boston and spread to about a dozen locations in that city and a similar number around Silicon Valley.

That year, Starbucks joined the Power Matters Alliance. The alliance was formed by Duracell owner Procter & Gamble and Powermat Technologies to encourage the adoption the PMA wireless charging standard conceived by these companies, which formed Duracell Powermat, a joint venture to market the technology.

Starbucks will place so-called “Powermat spots” on tables and counters; those will only work with devices that are PMA-compatible from the get-go, or with phones equipped with charging cases or ring-like devices that plug into smartphones to enable charging. The PMA standard is not compatible with the Qi charging system, which powers certain brands of smartphones.

Ángel González: 206-464-2250 or agonzalez@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @gonzalezseattle



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