Previously seen as heavy oddities and luxuries, power banks or portable battery packs have become essential life savers. While mobile devices become more powerful, batteries become less removable and less capable of catching up. But while battery packs offer emergency power, they have their drawbacks, like some added weight or yet another device you have to remember to charge before hand. AnkerBox wants to both remedy that while making a profit, by starting a charging-as-a-service business, offering battery packs and charging stations for rent or for purchase.
To some extent, it might sound like some of those charging stations some establishments are offering for a fee. While the base concept of paying for time to juice up your mobile is the same, the implementation is unique enough to warrant interest. What AnkerBox ultimately offers are, indeed, battery packs, which means you don’t have to be tethered to some box or charging pad. You can even take it with you if you wish. For a price of course.
AnkerBox will have boxes installed in participating establishments, mostly restaurants, bars, gyms, and, of course, coffee shops. These boxes house about six battery packs, each with 6,700 mAh capacity, that charge themselves inside. When your smartphone needs a power boost, you use an app to rent one of those battery packs. You can use it for free for 30 minutes, or $1.99 per day until you return the pack to its nest. If you lose it or, for some reason, decide you want to keep it, you’ll have to pay $30 instead.
AnkerBox will start a pilot program on April 15 in Seattle, covering about 200 establishments around the city. Monetization for AnkerBox will primarily come from those rental fees but there isn’t much detail about how participating establishments benefit from that. Aside, of course, for the possible increase in customers indirectly thanks to the AnkerBox.
While an intriguing idea, it’s definitely still a risky business proposition, considering not only the low daily rental fees but also the risk of theft and the like. Power banks are also more ubiquitous these days than they were, say, three or four years before. And, almost ironically, AnkerBox’s parent company, Anker, is more known for selling chargers and battery packs, which means that AnkerBox will, in effect, be competing with itself.