Apple and Samsung said to have big plans for solar gadgets, but industry isn’t ready


Apple and Samsung are exploring the possibility of releasing lines of products that are powered entirely by the sun, reports DigiTimes. Unfortunately, the solar market is not quite ready to produce products meant for a wide consumer debut, so such devices are highly unlikely to land in the Apple Store anytime soon.

The research into solar-powered gadgets is being headed up by both Apple and Samsung, the report indicates. Both companies hope to develop products that use solar for a “possible niche market” of customers. But according to unnamed sources, who have knowledge of the Taiwan-based solar companies that are working on the renewable energy technology, “these niche markets will need a longer time to develop.”

The primary hurtles for an expansion of solar devices is the industry’s ability to produce enough of the organic photovoltaic cells that are at the heart of solar technology, as well as the ability to produce higher efficiency solar panels that can more quickly and easily turn sun rays into electricity.

This August, however, Samsung has plans to release a solar-powered netbook, the NC215S, which is the first computer from the manufacturer to run off of sun-generated juice.

This is far from the first time we’ve heard about Apple exploring the possibilities of solar power. Back in January, Apple received Patent No. 7,868,582 from the US Patent and Trademark office for an auxiliary solar cell that could be used as a secondary charging system. And in 2008, the company was reportedly exploring the possibility of placing a solar panel behind the LCD screen, which would allow the device to charge using the sun without any compromise to the apparent design of the product — something that’s surely a high priority for Apple.