Googler Jed Christiansen takes issue with my previous post about battery life. As he writes:
MG comes across as an Silicon-Valley-centric arrogant jerk saying that “battery technology is really ripe for disruption.” It implies that all he needs to do is call attention to this problem, and two hackers in a garage will start experimenting and build a battery that’s better than anything else on the market. The reasons improving battery technology is tough is because the chemistry and material science problems are orthogonal; the work isn’t x*2, it’s x^2. Even once you’ve solved the key problems, manufacturing at the scale required for specific use cases becomes a third problem, since it forces a re-evaluation (and sometimes a complete re-design) of the original chemistry and material science problems.
Ad hominem aside, it’s a fair point. But I also don’t claim to know how to solve the problem, nor am I arrogant enough to think a short post on my blog will lead to a solution. I’m simply pointing out the obvious: that this is a major problem. And it’s going to get worse.
Obviously, a lot of people are working on this problem. And many are doing good work, no doubt. But I still hold out hope that there’s something out there right now that no one has thought of yet that will completely change everything in the space. True disruptions are never obvious. And it’s foolish to brush the possibility aside. Then again, that mentality often opens the door to disruption…
MG notes that poor battery life is causing him and others some grief. He then goes on to suggest that battery technology could be an area of exploration.
Given that the chemical energy in a standard phone lithium polymer battery is larger than a stick of dynamite (and this was from a lecture I sat through in University some number of years ago now), I’m not betting the farm on any big improvements coming through. The issue isn’t power density; we can probably make batteries more powerful. The trick is to make them give back that power slowly enough that they don’t burn you, or explode. That’s a tall order.
I agree with him about battery life in general being an issue, but I think we’ll see this attacked from the other side: better radios, better chipsets and better displays that suck down far less power.