Endless column inches have chronicled how Elon Musk’s electric car company is disrupting the auto industry and making inroads into the luxury car market (especially on America’s West Coast). But the true impact of its technology may reach far beyond America’s roads. The way forward, Tesla is betting, is in producing its own batteries.…Morgan Stanley, which also is bullish on the stock, is even more ebullient. “We are witnessing the most disruptive intersection of manufacturing, innovation and capital experienced by the auto industry in more than a century,” gushed analyst Adam Jonas in a note. “Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It’s not just cars.”This last quote might be an exaggeration, but on the other hand it might not. If somebody would have said in 1995 that a search motor engine company would almost rule the world in 2014 and have a devastating effect on several other industries, you most likely wouldn’t have believed that either.
I had a few moments at SxSW where I had to plug in my phone in a coffee shop or the back of a hotel ballroom because little provision is made for our energy consumption needs at most conferences, and certainly not at SxSW. In one case, I was several hundred feet from a friend doing a talk, so I could barely hear, because I needed to stay on line to try to connect with other friends.
But the deeper truth is that we are suffering the Spider’s Brain dilemma. A spider’s brain encircles its esophagus, and as the brain has evolved in size, spiders have progressive moved from solid food to drinking the fluid remnants of their prey after it is partially digested by injected digestive agents. So they have reached a limit — at least without evolving a very different shape for their exoskelton.
We are reaching the limits of power on mobile devices, especially if we are going to be using more apps that self-synchronize with the outside world, or run in the background, and also because 4G wireless will require more power.
My single biggest takeaway from SXSW was all the talk about battery life. Every single person. All the time. People changing plans because they needed to recharge their phones. People walking around with chargers. People who were chargers. Mophies galore. People uninstalling apps that would drain power. People putting phones into airplane mode in areas of weak signal. People borrowing other phones so they didn’t have to waste the power on their phone.
Power. Power. Power.
This talk is nothing new of course, but it’s ramping up. As we transition into an LTE world, it’s going to be more and more of an issue, as Farhad Manjoo points out today. One of the most impressive things about the new iPad is the fact that it maintains the 9 to 10 hour battery life even with the addition of LTE. The next question is if they can do that with the iPhone as well. We’ll see. It’s gonna need a bigger battery.
Manjoo is right that unlike the rest of the technology we use everyday, battery technology hasn’t evolved all that much over the past few decades. It’s constantly being refined and perfected, but it’s still largely the same. Want more battery life? Get a bigger battery.
If someone can truly disrupt this space, it will act as a lubricant that accelerates our already amazing pace of technological transformation.
Maybe wireless power sources that constantly charge and re-charge devices is the ultimate answer. But it just seems like battery technology is really ripe for disruption.
I agree. But with the proviso that the solution might come from a breakthrough in chips that might require significantly less power. Changing either side of the equation — or both — is the real opportunity.
Seems like a large number of customers are complaining about the iPhone 4s battery life:
Christina Bonnington via Wired.com
Although Apple has not yet officially commented on the issue, according to The Guardian, some of those affected by the issue have been contacted by Apple’s engineers. One individual said that Apple called and, after asking a number of questions about his usage habits, asked him to install a monitoring program so that they could better diagnose the issue.
The iPhone 4S has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It’s supposed to provide up to 8 hours of 3G talk time (14 hours of 2G) and standby time of up to 200 hours. Although it’s a slight larger (capacity-wise) battery than that of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4 is supposed to get 300 hours of standby time. For more intensive activities like internet use and watching videos, on the iPhone 4S you get 6 hours on 3G and 9 hours on WiFi, and 10 hours, respectively. The iPhone 4S has a beefed up A5 processor and several other hardware upgrades and changes compared to its predecessor. When the iPhone 3GS debuted, it also suffered from battery life complaints.
I bet this will turn out to be an iOS 5 issue, somehow related to apps running in the background.
Update: Oliver Haslam reports that the ‘setting time zone’ function can drain the battery when turned on.