December 21, 2012
Kickstarter Project Gets The Plug Pulled By Apple
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Apple isn´t the only company that wants their customers to buy and use their own, branded accessories. They might be, however, one of very few companies that go out of their way to make sure their customers have only one choice when it comes to these accessories. Apple´s new Lightning connector made waves when it was released in September alongside the new iPhone 5.
Since its first unveiling, Apple has been keeping the secrets of this new technology closely hidden, issuing a scant number of official licenses to companies to build their own Lightning adapters and connectors. Now, Apple has even gone so far as to refuse a license to a product which also uses their previously guarded 30-pin connector, resulting in the largest refund ever in Kickstarter´s history.
James Siminoff and the Edison Junior Design Laboratory set out to make a beautifully simplistic device to bring power to the myriad of devices which accompany our modern lifestyles. As such, they needed to include some of the world´s most popular devices, the iPad and iPhone.
They started a Kickstarter campaign in July to begin selling “POP,” the Portable Power, all-in-one charger with retractable cords and an incredibly powerful internal battery. POP was offered in two flavors, the POP Portable and the POP Station and was capable of recharging 10 iPhones on a single charge of its internal battery. Aptly titled, the POP Portable was designed to be easily carried around to places where battery power is essential, such as a mobile and traveling office or the outdoors.
In their introductory video, Siminoff also pitched the device as a perfect addition to any emergency-preparedness kit.
By September 1, the $50,000 campaign had reached $139,000 from 1,000 backers. A few weeks later, Apple unveiled their new iPhone, confirming many rumors about a new connector and port.
Siminoff and Edison Junior began the application process to use Apple´s new Lightning connector in POP, but as they recently discovered, the iPhone maker isn´t too keen on their new connector being used in tandem with other connectors, even their own.
One of the more powerful and useful aspects of POP was the way the device delivered power to a host of devices. Each of POP´s four retractable cords featured a Micro-USB end with its own 30-pin connector attached. When Lightning made its debut, the POP team decided to switch to two Lightning adapters and two 30-pin adapters.
The team has been going back and forth with Apple since September to get the approval to use their Lightning adapters with POP, but were finally denied their request.
“We didn´t get a yes or a no up front,” explained Siminoff in an interview with VentureBeat.
“But as we kept going back and forth it was clear that it was getting harder. Then, when we saw that they weren´t even going to allow a Lightning connector and a 30-pin connector together, we knew it was over.”
Now, the team has said they will begin giving back all of the $139,170 to all 1,000 backers and absorb the 3% credit card and 5% Kickstarter fees themselves. Siminoff has said he is “pissed” that this project is being shelved, though he feels his team is making the right decision.
“Since we are not willing to compromise and build a crappy product, refunding the money is the only acceptable thing to do,” he explained in a note to all POP backers.
In an interesting turn of events, this experience has led Siminoff to create a new Kickstarter-like business called “Christie Street” which is said to be a place to “crowdfund” physical products with a sensitivity to the special challenges these types of projects present - specifically, the need to refund money should a project miss the mark.
Siminoff and Edison Junior will now begin trying out some elements of Christie Street by using the service to refund all of the money back to POP backers.
In closing, Siminoff bid Apple some Holiday tidings, saying: “If you know anyone at Apple please send them coal for their stockings, on behalf of us.”