EE’s Power Bar has become the most unlikely tech success story of the year so far.
It’s hard to get too excited about chargers and accessories, but the freebie power booster has captured the imagination of the network’s customers, with demand so great that it says it won’t have any more in stock until late June.
Right now, EE says that those who have a code to get hold of a Power Bar but haven’t got one yet will still be able to do so before that date.
Stock is also being shifted to bigger stores in order to cope with demand.But the stampede to get hold of one shows us three things.
First, never underestimate how much people love a freebie (even if really it is one you really have to pay for, a nominal 35p charge in this case).
Second, people simply cannot stop using their smartphones, even when power is running dangerously low. And, third, that we really need to talk about batteries.
To be fair, those last two points dovetail.
As more and more services become mobile oriented (Google searches now down rank sites which don’t have a mobile version), the use of smartphones is becoming even more ubiquitous.
ComScore data from last year revealed that 60% of all internet time was spent on mobile devices.
But with that comes a demand for improved battery life. And, to be fair, mobile-makers have improved in this regard.
Samsung’s moves to help users eke out power from its new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge are laudable, with greyscale options, a quick charge tool and the chance to turn off data.
But the latter is kind of pointless when you want your phone to check your route home or cheat at your local pub quiz.
Quite simply, the only way manufacturers can solve this problem is by using larger batteries.
But that throws up compromises with design, something which modern consumers are very aware of.
Just last month, Apple’s Jony Ive said he didn’t believe users wanted a larger iPhone.
Ive told the Financial Times that a bigger battery would make the iPhone more cumbersome and ‘less compelling’.
But it would also mean it wouldn’t need plugging in every 24 hours. And until battery tech improves significantly, heftier phones are what we need.
That’s unlikely to happen, hence EE has spotted a very smart niche and gone for it with the Power Bar.
But do we really want to have to remember to carry a personal charger every time we go out? Not really.
It’s time phones bulked up so the services we love to use can keep kicking on our devices for longer.