updated 08:16 pm EST, Thu December 20, 2012
Refunds for device offered by designer's own crowd funding site
A high-profile iOS charging accessory Kickstarter project has been cancelled by its inventor, even after raising well more than twice the requested funding. The POP Charger, designed by Edison Junior representative Jamie Siminoff, saw an update to the funding page for the first time in over a month. The update stated that the company would not be able to build and engineer the device, since Apple was not going to approve Lightning connectors in use in parallel with the now-outdated 30-pin connectors.
Planned refunds are allegedly not able to be completed through Kickstarter, Siminoff claimed, so the entrepreneur is refunding all transactions through his own crowd-funding website now in development, Christie Street. All Kickstarter funders of the POP Charger will receive free accounts on Christie Street, though no payment information will be transferred in the process.
While Kickstarter itself does not give refunds on projects, the terms of service on Kickstarter clearly state that "a Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer's request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward" and "Project Creators may cancel or refund a Backer's pledge at any time and for any reason, and if they do so, are not required to fulfill the reward." The terms do not address third-party refunds, like those offered through Christie Street. Siminoff claims that processing refunds manually would take longer than it would through the self-created crowd sourcing website.
Kickstarter has taken five percent of the funds generated as a fee, and another three percent is absorbed by credit card processing fees. Siminoff is claiming to want to refund 100 percent of all monies offered, despite taking a loss on the refunds. The entrepreneur has asked Kickstarter for the five percent fee back, but no response has been made to the plea as of yet.
According to a report on The Verge, Siminoff was told by Apple that it "will not allow Lightning to be on any product that has any other adapter" and that Apple doesn't make any discrimination as to what the other adapter is, even Apple's own 30-pin dock cable. Siminoff was asked about including Lightning adapters rather than direct plugs, and he cited the $25 cost per adapter as cost-prohibitive to include. Electronista spoke with a licensing official at Apple who told us that he was "unaware of any official rule prohibiting Lightning and 30-pin connectors on a single device" and promised to "look into the matter further."
The device from the beginning offered USB ports as a source for user-supplied cables to be plugged into the charger. Why the device wasn't produced regardless of the alleged Apple licensing refusal with more USB ports and without the Lightning functionality is unclear. Comments on the update point out that the device wasn't supported by only iOS users, and that the Lightning cabling in some cases is neither required nor desired by the purchaser.