Examining Opportunities And Development of Chargers-Xinspower Tech

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Examining the Abilities and Opportunities of Hardware Product Managers from the Development of Chargers

Nowadays, various types of chargers have emerged, gradually filling the gaps and enhancing the user experience in various niche fields. So, do chargers still have opportunities? What opportunities and challenges can hardware product managers see from the development of chargers? Let’s take a look at the author’s insights.

Since the last article, it has been a long time since I shared my thoughts in public. On one hand, I consider myself inexperienced and dare not speak recklessly to mislead others. On the other hand, I am eager to contribute and often want to use output to drive input (you see, I even set up a previous article to lay the groundwork). Recently, I have seen various fancy chargers, which triggered some random thoughts that I cannot resist. I want to share some new insights in the field of hardware products, and learn and improve together.

I. The Past and Present of Chargers

Since some mobile phones integrated non-removable batteries, chargers have become standard accessories for every smartphone. The inherent attribute of high frequency demand has attracted countless attention from the market. Hardware product managers have also gone all out in this daily small component, and some small giants such as Anker and Baseus have emerged in this small market.

Nowadays, chargers come in various shapes and sizes, leading the way in various niche fields. There are gallium nitride (GaN) chargers that pursue ultimate efficiency, wireless chargers that pursue ultimate convenience, desktop chargers that provide cyber experiences, and power bank chargers for business use. Looking back at the development path of chargers, it seems to have a trace to follow. Taking a closer look, it also resembles the self-growth and renewal of a hardware product manager: from being an inconspicuous accessory to understanding user experiences.

II. The Chargers that Keep Running

Get rid of that charger? Wait… it seems like it can’t be eliminated!

It is common knowledge that chargers need to be plugged into sockets to charge phones, or at least that was my inherent understanding before I saw a certain brand’s socket. On the first day of its release in 2015, a socket with a built-in USB port sold 247,000 units, and after three months, sales reached one million units* (data from the internet): chargers were eliminated!

Phone - data cable - charger - socket, the entire energy transmission chain is clear. The seemingly simple merging operation of adjacent nodes creates a new hardware product - USB socket. “If unnecessary, don’t add weight to the entity.” Hardware product managers need to have the ability to understand the business front line, have a deep understanding of user scenarios, and be able to create good products that users are willing to pay for. On a micro level, hardware products also need the ability to use subtraction in the product development and design process. For example, can multiple structural components be merged into one to reduce costs? Can modular design reduce assembly processes? Such details, when magnified during mass production, may achieve the cost targets of several small goals.

After using a socket with a built-in USB port in my dorm, the charger was forgotten in a corner. For a long time after that, I thought I didn’t need to buy a charger anymore, until I was brainwashed by a magical advertisement: “Five minutes of charging, two hours of talking.” The era of fast charging arrived, and chargers made a comeback. Although I knew it was a trap of consumerism, I still wanted it. I may not need fast charging, but I can’t be without it!

  1. New technologies have arrived, allowing chargers to fly further

PD, QC, PPS, SCP, FCP, SuperCharge, FlashCharge, and many other fast charging protocols have emerged in the era of battery anxiety. GaN chargers with high efficiency and small size quickly gained popularity in the market, igniting the charger market. With the support of new technologies, products that provide various segmented scenarios and experiences started to be explored, such as power bank chargers and desktop chargers.

The idea behind power bank chargers is consistent with the concept mentioned earlier, merging the nodes of the charging chain. It allows business travelers to no longer carry a power bank and a charger separately. Without new technologies, forcibly combining power banks and chargers would be too cumbersome. It would be basically redundant or at least a strange combination that does not meet the aesthetic standards of technology. The small size of GaN chargers enables portability, which perfectly matches the portability of power banks, giving birth to a new species. Paying attention to the development and breakthroughs of new technologies is also an essential ability for hardware product managers: does the new technology bring improvements in user experience?

On the other hand, desktop chargers seem to directly integrate chargers and sockets into one product, meeting the needs of powering and charging different devices on the desktop. With the increasing number of electronic devices and the demand for different power and interfaces, USB sockets are insufficient. Thus, desktop USB sockets evolved into desktop chargers.

You may think that hardware product managers are merely sewing together various old products, and wonder where the innovation is. My answer is: there is no major innovation (or very limited innovation), but it creates product value and meets the needs of certain scenarios. Hardware product managers do not need to constantly criticize themselves for the lack of innovation.  Having a calm and steadfast attitude towards product positioning and development is also an essential quality for hardware product managers in today’s restless society.

New technologies are still emerging, and at least for now, they can make chargers fly further!

  1. Do chargers still have opportunities? I don’t know, but hardware product opportunities are vast.

Nowadays, various types of chargers are gradually filling the gaps in every niche field, providing ultimate experiences. It is uncertain whether the future can completely break free from the constraints of charging cables and achieve wireless charging. Instead of focusing on the limited space of chargers, it is better to think about how to transform the inconspicuous accessories around us, just like chargers did in the past. What are the possibilities of combining various household appliances with smart hardware? What are the possibilities of combining various furniture with smart hardware?

If you agree with the idea that “all products are worth redoing with AI,” can’t all hardware products be remade with the AI trend?

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