A smartphone user scans a mobile power pack cabinet in Beijing. (File photo)
Mobile power pack sharing has become the latest tech fad in China following bike sharing and car sharing, according to the Laodong Daily. Mobile power pack cabinets (pictured below) pop up in many restaurants and shopping malls. As if overnight, popular places have become the battlefield of mobile power pack sharing competitors.
Battery recharging is in high demand in cities with fast-paced cultures. However, considering recharging services have been prevailing in Shanghai longer than other cities, it has yet to be seen whether competitors can become the front-runner.
Mobile power pack sharing competitors started to expand their turf into Shanghai as the sharing economy becomes vogue in China. Recently, this reporter experienced three existing sharing modes in Shanghai and found out that sharing is quite useful for consumers in a time of need.
However, it is still far from being accepted by consumers. Problems such as poor network layout, slow recharging speed, possible pitfalls in deposit returning, information leakage and electric safety risks still exist.
The reporter first tried a power pack sharing service provided by Shenzhen Jiedian Technology Co., Ltd. Jiedian has a wider network than its competitors, Shenzhen Laidian Technology Co., Ltd and Beijing Yidianyuan Network Technology Co., Ltd which is also called Xiaodian Technology.
By searching the WeChat official account of Jiedian, the reporter found more than 10 cabinets neighboring Changping Road and Changde Road of Jing'an district. Guided by GPS, it took 5 minutes to reach a cabinet installed in a restaurant.
According to the waiter, Jiedian's device was introduced in the restaurant in April. "No one rented the device at the very beginning, but recently a dozen individuals asked for it," said the waiter. Jiedian Technology is using a small cabinet which could contain six mobile power packs.
A mobile power pack popped out automatically after the reporter scanned the QR code on the cabinet by WeChat. Before this, a 100 yuan (.50) deposit was made.
However, a sentence saying "rent mobile power pack for free" is printed on the striking upper side of the cabinet. The WeChat account didn't send reminder of charging during the renting.
More than 1 hour later, this reporter's phone was fully charged from a 66 percent charged battery. After about 3 hours of use, this reporter returned the pack to the same cabinet and was charged 3 yuan.
According to the waiter, the "free" sentence on the cabinet caused misunderstanding among other users. In fact, it is only free for half an hour. Once it exceeds that limit, it will charge 1 yuan per hour.
Most mobile power pack sharing companies are following the same profit mode as bike sharing: deposits and rentals. However, for Laidian, it also requires users to buy a USB charging cable for the cabinet.
At a shop inside a shopping mall in Xinzhuang, Minhang district, the reporter found a large-sized cabinet installed by Laidian which contains 40 mobile power packs.
Laidian provides three types of ports: USB Type C, micro USB for Android phone and lightning used for iPhone.
Users must buy a cable for 10 yuan for recharging, as it is not possible without one. But different from Jiedian, Laidian cooperates with Alipay. With Zhima Credit exceeding 600 points, users can rent the mobile power pack for 1 yuan per hour without any deposit.
Currently, no matter which device one uses, renting a mobile power pack follows the same process: scan the QR code, pay, recharge and return. The pack will be fully recharged automatically in the cabinet. But problems occurred when the reporter tried to return packs for Jiedian and Laidian.
Jiedian showed the cabinet was not online, but was successfully connected after three attempts. The pack for Laidian was stuck for 1 minute and not taken in by the cabinet until the reporter pushed it forcefully.