Screens, cameras, and connectivity on our smartphones are getting better and better (yay!), but battery tech is lagging behind (boo!). As a heavy smartphone user, you’ll know that dreaded feeling of your battery marching relentlessly from healthy life, via threatened and endangered, towards extinction.
The most common solution to the problem is to carry a charger or a USB battery pack, but both have downsides: You’ve got to remember to charge the battery pack, and power plugs are often few and far between. AnkerBox is a charger-as-a-service solution that is hoping to put an end to all that.
To use AnkerBox, a user downloads the app (available for iOS and Android), and can use the app to rent or return the chargers, much in the same way that you can use a bike-sharing system, or the already existing FuelRod battery-pack system.
Launching as a Seattle-based pilot program on April 15th, the company is aiming to “put an end to dead phones in Seattle”. To run its proof of concept, it has more than 200 bars, restaurants, gyms, and other locations set up to get a blanket coverage of the city.
The battery packs are relatively high-capacity (6,700 mAh), which should be enough to fully charge your phone a couple of times. To further speed things up, it uses Anker’s PowerIQ tech to reduce the amount of time the customer spends charging up their device.After you’ve installed the app, you can use AnkerBox to get a quick, 30-minute boost for free. If you need the battery pack for longer, take it with you and you pay $1.99 per day until you return it to any AnkerBox charging station. The company has taken a flexible stance to their loss policy, too: If you want to keep the charger forever, or if you misplace it, you pay $30, and it’s yours.
After the pilot program in Seattle, the company is planning to expand to other cities. It wouldn’t confirm which ones specifically, but New York and Los Angeles were mentioned.
You probably know Anker best as the company that makes high-speed chargers for your car and home, and battery packs for when you’re gallivanting about. The new company, AnkerBox, is a startup funded by its parent company Anker, but operates with a different business model; instead of an e-commerce oriented B2C customer, AnkerBox is augmenting Anker’s coverage by taking a service approach.
To the businesses hosting the charging stations, AnkerBox is positioning itself as a feature that can help increase the footfall to locations featuring the devices. The company installs the AnkerBox stations for free, but isn’t currently offering a revenue share to the merchants.
It’s going to be interesting to see whether device charging on the go is a big enough problem to the average consumer that AnkerBox will take off, or whether people have become savvy enough — in part due to Anker’s own efforts – to bring their own chargers or power packs along with them.