Apple puts kibosh on awesome charging gadget


UPDATE: Apple lifts block on combo 30-pin+Lightning charging accessories

How do you fancy a handy charger that can power multiple portable devices without you having to worry about tangled up cabling? Well we’re sorry to tell you that Apple says you can’t have it.

A licensing dispute means that a developer will have to refund the thousand people who donated money on Kickstarter for POP (POrtable Power). The project had raised $139,170, easily beating its $50,000 funding goal.

The device, which was roughly similar in appearance to a small coffee cup, would come in two forms: one that plugged in to a power socket and one that used an internal rechargeable battery so you could use it on the move. That battery was billed as having enough power to fully charge 10 iPhones (or one iPhone 10 times) before it needed recharging itself.

Each device featured four retractable tips (on two-foot cables in the original design, but with a goal of making a four-foot version) that had both a micro-USB plug and an Apple 30-pin plug. There were also two standard USB sockets at the base of the device for connecting adaptor cables to other devices.

James Siminoff, the developer behind the project, had big plans: he not only envisioned it being for personal use, but suggested companies could buy branded models to make available for public use in retail establishments or at conferences.

That dream is on hold for the moment, ironically thanks to a last-minute improvement to the gadget. When Apple announced its new Lightning charger for the iPhone 5, Siminoff quickly redesigned the device so that two of the cable tips has Lightning plugs and two had tradition Apple 30-pin plugs.

However, having applied for a license to use the Lightning plug, Siminoff says he’s now been told by Apple that it won’t grant a license for any device that uses both Lightning and another charger plug design. In fact it wouldn’t even be possible to create a device that solely had Lightning and Apple 30-pin plugs, with no USB support.

To make things worse, Kickstarter isn’t set-up to allow easy processing of refunds for fully-funded projects as the theory is that anything that raises the cash is meant to be guaranteed to go ahead. Siminoff has set up user accounts on a rival crowdfunding site for all donators and will process refunds there. He reckons that between credit card fees and the five percent charge Kickstarter makes, he’ll take an $11,000 hit.

Siminoff says he didn’t want to simply put the product out with the Lightning support dropped and risk upsetting anyone who had donated on the basis that it would support the iPhone 5 and similar devices. He’s now planning to try a new crowdfunding program to confirm there is definitely enough interest in a Lightning-free version.