Mophie said earlier this week that it’s expanding beyond its popular smartphone battery products with the upcoming launch of the Mophie Space Pack. Shortly after the announcement, I stopped by the Mophie booth at the Consumer Electronics Show to get a demo of the new product.
The company’s PR manager Kevin Malinowski told that from Mophie’s perspective, the company has “almost perfected” its battery products, so the team was looking for “the next pain point,” and it settled on storage.
People often feel like they don’t have enough storage space on their phone, he said, so they have to start deleting things to make room. Malinowski added that solutions like cloud storage may have their place, but they fall short in some respects — for example, you could store files in the cloud and want to access them while on a flight, but then find that you can’t get to them because the plane doesn’t have reliable WiFi (or any WiFi at all).
Mophie’s approach to the problem, he said, wasn’t to create “something brand new,” but instead something that’s “very familiar feeling.”
On the hardware side, that means creating a device looks almost identical to Mophie’s existing products. In fact, while it’s storing your files, it’s also providing battery power to your phone. Charlie Quong, the company’s senior director of product management, laid the Mophie Space Pack down next to the Juice Pack Air and they were virtually identical, aside from a silver button on the back of the Space Pack that’s used for turning it on and off.
On the software side, the interface should feel fairly intuitive to iOS users. You access the files through an app on your phone, which allows you to browse them based on type, i.e., videos, music, documents, and so on. Quong was also able to play a movie file (Night of the Living Dead, if I’m not mistaken) from the Space Pack without any significant lag time.
Mophie has taken advantage of the various APIs that Apple provides, so the Space Pack should work with any file type that’s “natively supported by the iPhone,” Quong said, though its capabilities will be limited if a file is protected by DRM.
As for getting those files onto the Space Pack, the storage unit can be connected to your computer via USB. Or if someone sends a file via email, when you select it, saving the file to Mophie will show up as an option. Quong also showed me several settings for automatically saving your camera roll — there’s even a special camera feature within the app that allows you to take photos that are saved directly into the Space Pack.
Mophie plans to start shipping the Space Pack (which is available for pre-order now) on March 14 — it offers a 16 gigabyte model for $149.95 and a 32 gigabyte model for $179.95. And although the current version only works with the iPhone 5 and 5s, Quong said the company is interested in supporting other devices as well, particularly other iOS devices.
The new product, he said, “actually opens the door up to a whole new base of users.”