Six months ago, I bought a new Energizer battery charger because I needed one which would handle AAA batteries as well as AAs. I commented at the time on my surprise at its incorporation of a big fan and a whopping great power supply – needed because it can recharge batteries in 15-20 mins.
Well, six months on, I’m… well… a big fan. I get through a lot of batteries, and the fact that this can turn empty ones into full ones in the time I need to turn a full cup of coffee into an empty one is a wonderful asset – I now have a constant supply of power.
It is a little sniffy about which batteries it will take, though, and turns up its nose at my attempts to use some of my more elderly rechargables. This is probably sensible, since it’s about to pump considerable amounts of current into them. All the Energizer cells I’ve procured to use with it, though, have been just fine.
And then I wondered if this was deliberate. You see, there’s a big business opportunity here. Batteries are a necessity now, and if you can come up with ones that have some cool features — extra-long-life, built in LCD meters, perhaps, or the ability to change colour based on current consumption or charge level — then you could do quite well. (USBCELL is a nice example.) I like the idea of batteries which learn their typical use patterns and can communicate with others in the same device, so they can tell you that you’ll only get about two hours’ use, and it’s mostly the fault of the one on the left there.
But suppose you also come up with a cool charger, perhaps which incorporates a travel adaptor, the ability to charge from USB, to recharge your phone, a built-in solar trickle-charger… hey, it could include an MP3 player. Everything else does. You sell it really cheap. Everyone wants one. But you make it so that it only effectively recharges your batteries, and your batteries need to be charged by it. Perhaps the batteries have unique IDs and the charger can log information about them and display it. Maybe it could even order new ones for you when it thinks you need them.
Anyway, people might then invest a reasonable amount in your particular brand, and you then have an ongoing revenue model which I’m sure could make for a good MBA project, at least!
Time for some market research. What killer features would you like in your batteries?