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Apple Kills a Kickstarter Project - Updated 471

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-is-but-one-way dept.
Nerdfest writes "Venturebeat is reporting that a successfully funded Kickstarter project for a portable phone charger that works with both Apple and Android devices has been canceled because Apple wouldn't let the creators license its Lightning connector. Quoting: 'Edison Junior, the technology and design lab behind the POP portable power station, is returning the full $139,170 in funding it received from Kickstarter backers to develop the device. Unfortunately, Apple has refused to give the project permission to license the Lightning charger in a device that includes multiple charging options. ... "We didn’t get a yes or a no up front," Siminoff said. "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." He also said that, while Apple is a private company and can do whatever it wishes, it should watch out. "When you do things that are bad for the customer I think it will be bad for them.”''" Update: 12/21 22:16 GMT by S : Apple has relented. A spokesman for the company told Ars, "Our technical specifications provide clear guidelines for developing accessories and they are available to MFi licensees for free. We support accessories that integrate USB and Lightning connectors, but there were technical issues that prevented accessories from integrating 30-pin and Lightning connectors so our guidelines did not allow this. We have been working to resolve this and have updated our guidelines to allow accessories to integrate both 30-pin and Lightning connectors to support charging."
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Apple Kills a Kickstarter Project - Updated

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  • Dear Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:46AM (#42358817)

    Dear Apple

    Fuck you!

    Yours sincerely

    The sane people on the planet

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:50AM (#42358849)

    Dear Apple

    Fuck you!

    Yours sincerely

    The sane people on the planet

    Ah yes, the kickstarter project that began before the official release of the connector, that also features powered USB ports for charging "other devices with incompatible ports" and yet somehow the inability to roll in the Lightning port to a product that was begun before Apple even acknowledged it exists is "doomed".

    I wonder, what's to stop iPhone 5 users from plugging in a Lightning cable into one of the powered USB ports on this device? Nothing? So why the need to cancel it?

    Very odd.

  • I'm confused... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Geraden (15689) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:56AM (#42358913) Homepage

    Since just about everything uses USB cables these days, anyhow, why is anyone bothering with designing chargers targeted towards a specific device or family of devices? Just put a USB A receptacle on there, and call it done! Let the licensing be taken care of by those who make cables.

    Oh, and one thing I'm NOT confused about is Apple's strategy....screw you, Apple. I'm sick of paying for products that you need to have an apple computer to program for... for an OS that only runs on your hardware, despite having the ability to run just about anywhere ... for products that don't have user-serviceable batteries...and for your stupid, non-compliant connectors. I bought my last apple product 5 years ago, and I haven't looked back.

  • I call bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DevilM (191311) <devilm@devilm . c om> on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:57AM (#42358923) Homepage

    Here you have an article where no statement was included from Apple including the purported response this company got. Then the CEO goes on to call Apple assholes. Who knows what really happened.

    I for one wouldn't license my IP to someone who calls me an asshole.

  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:57AM (#42358927)

    I had presumed that Apple wanted to have tight control over the lightening connector - that is to say, they wanted to maximize their profit - but geesh!

    Way to act like Veruca Salt!

    In what way? Their terms for licensing the "lightening [sic] connector" are well known, and this project started before the iPhone 5 was even released. Somehow it has become a deal breaker for the project, despite the connector not being officially announced when the project began.

    Now the project owner has thrown his toys out of the pram because apparently the built in USB ports on the device will simply make it totally useless and non-viable because Apple denied them a licence for a connector that didn't exist at the start of the project.

    Apple didn't "kill a kickstarter project" - the originator of the kickstarter project killed a kickstarter project.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday December 21, 2012 @09:59AM (#42358943) Homepage

    That was then. This is now. Apple is already in decline. People are annoyed at the things Apple will not allow. The iPhone 5 is not quite the wait-in-line-for-weeks thing that its predecessors were. The public knows all too well why Apple took away Google maps and that Apple was proven inadequate when it came to selecting a replacement. And the public was very quick to get their old maps back and recognize this as Apple's defeat and humiliation in this. (I know, it sounds a bit too dramatic, but ask around... if you know any iPhone users, see what they have to say about it.)

    MBAs now run Apple. They prefer to make "safe choices" unlike Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs, despite his huge ego and other faults, knew how to excite consumers. These MBAs don't. Safe choices don't excite people. Safe choices is why there are so many movie sequels and remakes instead of new [risky] creative works.

    Apple had it for a while... they don't have it now. It's gone.

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:01AM (#42358959) Homepage
    The EU had, and still has, a tacit agreement with equipment vendors to this end in-place, but it's not legally binding and there is no penalty for not following it. Apple signed it, along with most other mobile device equipment vendors, then reneged on their promise and released the Lightning connector anyway. Apple does not care about the environment, it does not care about standards, it does not care about FRAND licensing of its patents, and it sure as hell doesn't care about its customers. Apple cares about making as much money for its shareholders as possible. Period.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:04AM (#42358987)

    All wrong.

    It is not a law, it is a voluntary agreement.

    The voluntary agreement that Apple signed in on states that the charger has to be universal NOT the device. Apple's chargers ARE universal in that they employ a standard USB type A plug, and they work with any USB type A charger that ships with many electronics.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:08AM (#42359019)

    RTFA.

    This is not necessarily the end of the Edison Junior’s portable power project. Siminoff told me that the team will be re-focusing on a device that supports Android phones and tablets and Apple products as well, if backers wish to use a Lightning-to-USB connector, or an older 30-pin connector. They’ll only build that device, however, if the crowdfunding community wants it.

    They want to do that, but they'd be building a different project than what people pledged for. So for obvious reasons they would need to start over.

    But they already are - the Lightning connector was not official when the project began, so how could they offer it?

    If they started the project based on rumours of the new connector, or with a plan to include it *without* discussing terms with Apple first, then that was just silly.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:10AM (#42359043) Journal
    and yet somehow the inability to roll in the Lightning port to a product that was begun before Apple even acknowledged it exists is "doomed".

    Why would they bother developing yet another USB charging hub? The entire point of this project centered around not needing to carry around 27 different dongles to all do effectively the same task at the same Li-ion-friendly voltage. Ironically enogh, we shouldn't even have a need for this [readwrite.com], since Apple promised (and lied to) the EU to switch to a unified charging standard. Did they break the letter of the law? Apparently not. But does their latest proprietary CashGrab-enabled CopperInPlastic(tm) technology serve any purpose (to the end user) at all?

    No. No, it does not. So yeah, Fuck Apple.


    I wonder, what's to stop iPhone 5 users from plugging in a Lightning cable into one of the powered USB ports on this device? Nothing? So why the need to cancel it?

    Just $20. Though I have no doubt, if they could make these things teleport nickels and dimes straight to Cupertino, they would have gone with that approach per-use instead.
  • Fishy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:14AM (#42359085)

    They took money for a product they didn't know if they could build, then when it turns out they couldn't, instead of slightly modifying the design by including a female USB port, they set customers up with accounts on their Kickstarter competitor to refund them. This looks pretty much like they changed their mind about building it if favour of pivoting their business to go into crowd funding, and decided to use Apple hate to grab users and publicity.

  • Re:Again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:15AM (#42359097) Homepage Journal

    Millions of people lined up and camped out in droves in order to buy a product that proves that they "think different" and that they are not consumer drones like those people with that other brand of product.

    Steve Jobs could have had penguins lining up to buy ice cubes.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:28AM (#42359197) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you haven't actually look at what the device does. You wouldn't get one with a built in battery for $20. Obviously they were offering something different or people would have just bought a $20 device off of Amazon rather than choosing to fund this project.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:28AM (#42359201)
    The project also didn't know apple would be make a NEW connector for the iPhone5, so their original plan was "make an adapter that works with all current-gen devices". When Apple changed the connector, that new connector became a requirement to meet that goal, which they were unable to do.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:30AM (#42359217)

    [Link to "Apple Now Most Valuable Company in History"]

    That was then. This is now. Apple is already in decline.

    By what measurement?

    People are annoyed at the things Apple will not allow.

    People have been annoyed at the things Apple will not allow for years. This is nothing new.

    The iPhone 5 is not quite the wait-in-line-for-weeks thing that its predecessors were.

    Apple just had a record-breaking launch of the iPhone 5 in China last weekend. When the iPhone 5 was first launched, it sold 5 million in its first weekend. The iPhone 4S sold 4 million in its first weekend. The iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million in its first weekend.

    The public knows all too well why Apple took away Google maps

    Because their license was ending and Google's terms weren't acceptable to Apple?

    MBAs now run Apple. They prefer to make "safe choices" unlike Steve Jobs.

    Tim Cook runs Apple. He's actually been running Apple for a long time, long before Steve Jobs died. He's just implemented a major restructuring of Apple's divisions. And you've just got done complaining about the risk Apple took with Maps.

  • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asliarun (636603) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:31AM (#42359241)

    I had presumed that Apple wanted to have tight control over the lightening connector - that is to say, they wanted to maximize their profit - but geesh!

    Way to act like Veruca Salt!

    In what way? Their terms for licensing the "lightening [sic] connector" are well known, and this project started before the iPhone 5 was even released. Somehow it has become a deal breaker for the project, despite the connector not being officially announced when the project began.

    Now the project owner has thrown his toys out of the pram because apparently the built in USB ports on the device will simply make it totally useless and non-viable because Apple denied them a licence for a connector that didn't exist at the start of the project.

    Apple didn't "kill a kickstarter project" - the originator of the kickstarter project killed a kickstarter project.

    How biased do have to be to post this? You keep saying over and over again that the connector was not announced when the project was announced. So what? The connector exists today. Apple denied them a license because they do want their connector to coexist with another connector because in their special universe, only apple products exist.

    This level of arrogance is staggering. On top of it, you are not only supporting their arrogance but also trashing a bunch of guys that just wanted to make a simple combo connector. Dude that is pathetic. Apple is a company that makes some great products but are also filled with hubris, and I don't know why you can't let these two thoughts coexist in your head.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:39AM (#42359341) Journal
    I'm not seeing how this is Apple's fault - it's not as if their usual behaviour is uncommon here. The licensing around the original 30 pin was equally obtuse.

    I'd call it Apple's fault for using a proprietary connector in the first place.

    Yes, I'd also call it the fault of patent law for allowing something so absurd intended solely to block interoperation with 3rd party devices; but Apple chose to use it.

    If it makes you happier, I also condemn Intel for the abomination they call "Thunderbolt" - Though unlike iThings, at least Thunderbolt never really caught on.
  • Yes, fearing Apple's destructiveness toward the world makes sense. But what you said directs attention away from the fact that Apple makes money partly by making products people want, and partly by being destructive toward those people.

    Apple's current downward slide is good for the world, because it tends to limit Apple's hostility. What will stop Apple from becoming less and less relevant? The one-time opportunities to make a well-designed music player and a more sophisticated cell phone have come and gone.
  • More detail: It should not be possible to get a patent on a connector!!! All connectors and other standard ways of doing things like file system organizations must be in the public domain. Otherwise there are numerous opportunities for abuse.
  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Friday December 21, 2012 @10:59AM (#42359553) Homepage

    But they already are - the Lightning connector was not official when the project began, so how could they offer it?

    Presumably they felt their actual offering was "whatever the contemporary connector Apple uses is", given that a device which can only be connected to obsolete devices is .... obsolete.

    If they started the project based on rumours of the new connector, or with a plan to include it *without* discussing terms with Apple first, then that was just silly.

    Erm, yes, how silly of them to not anticipate that Apple would require licensing for a goddamn power plug. Since when have you had to sign exclusivity agreements to connect a battery to another battery? Can you name any other manufacturer that uses custom authentication chips to prevent people making charging cables? Maybe at the time the Kickstarter project proposal was made, they figured Apple might actually pull its head out of its arse and use the same connector the rest of the world was already standardizing on. Then when the reality turned out to be far worse than they had imagined they realized they'd effectively take peoples money to build a device that wouldn't charge most of their customers iPhones. I think they did exactly the right thing in the circumstance.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:02AM (#42359571)

    Erm, yes, how silly of them to not anticipate that Apple would require licensing for a goddamn power plug

    It's not even that; they clearly tried to work within the licensing restrictions they knew would be in place, but Apple's response was completely unreasonable and it forced them to scrap the inclusion of the connector even though they probably had at least $10-$15 worth of margin built in to each unit to account for that.

    If Apple can't be wooed to sell the details of EIGHT FUCKING COPPER TRACES for $10 a unit, then yes, FUCK APPLE.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:10AM (#42359647) Homepage
    Here's one [dx.com] that costs $9.70. The Batteries [dx.com] cost $7.31. For a total price of $17.01. If you want more power (personally, I think the first one has more than enough, it can recharge my phone at least twice over) you can get this one [dx.com] for $10.40 which uses 4 of the same batteries I linked to. Total price with batteries for that unit would be $25.02
  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:13AM (#42359683) Homepage

    Ever tried to charge an iPad 3 with one of those $20 devices? It takes a long time because only official Apple chargers are allowed to provide 2A. A standard USB charger can't even prevent the battery level from falling when the device is in use, let alone boost it.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:37AM (#42359931)

    No, you can't find a 25k maH one for $20... but you can find 5,000 aH ones.

    The price differential makes the big one a bad deal. It doesn't have to be identical, it just has to attempt to fill a niche that other products already do *well enough* for less.

    Look, I'm not claiming it's without merit - I use an Apple device, which is the definition of a more expensive product in a market where there are many other cheaper competitors that work "well enough" - just that if that is your business model, you have to be realistic about your expectations and be *totally sure* your market research and product details are bullet proof.

  • by butlerm (3112) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:39AM (#42359953)

    More detail: It should not be possible to get a patent on anything. Granting monopolies on ideas is economically counterproductive, morally suspect, and intellectually perverse.

  • by Bradmont (513167) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:40AM (#42359967)

    Apple cares about making as much money for its shareholders as possible. Period.

    That is the purpose — the only purpose — of a business.

    I seriously never understood this line of reasoning. Because they have a responsibility to their shareholders, corporations are somehow exempt from all moral and ethical responsibility in every other way? That's like saying, "A car's sole purpose is to drive. So it doesn't have to slow down for pedestrians in crosswalks."

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday December 21, 2012 @11:46AM (#42360049) Journal

    Since when have you had to sign exclusivity agreements to connect a battery to another battery?

    Whether you are aware or not, you have to pay a license fee to incorporate USB into any device, too. I'm not defending Apple, nor making any judgment about this project. But, yes, licenses need to be obtained, and it is well known that Apple retains a choke hold on their connectors and licenses them only quite sparingly. Arbitrary? Yes. Capricious? Yes. Ought to be loosened and made less exclusive? Definitely. But it's also well known and should have been anticipated.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Friday December 21, 2012 @12:15PM (#42360411) Homepage Journal

    Yes, they have custom chips. [Citation needed] that they're "designed to prevent" copying. Near as I can tell, the best guess is those chips are there because the 8+1 copper lines are completely configurable and thus need active logic. Considering there are already unofficial Chinese reverse-engineered cables around, I don't think this is insurmountable technically. It's just that Apple isn't going to put their official stamp on it-- and I'm surprised these people expected them to.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Friday December 21, 2012 @02:50PM (#42362275)

    The lightning connector is better than a "standard" USB connector in many ways. It's easier to plug in because you don't have to worry about which way to plug it in. It carries more power so it will charge faster. It is smaller, so it will fit on smaller devices. Saying that everyone should use the "standard" is basically saying that what we have now is good enough for all time and should never improve. But I don't think we're there yet.

  • by butlerm (3112) on Friday December 21, 2012 @03:30PM (#42362751)

    Ditto. That is the PR of the patent industry, which lives and breathes by placing impediments to the progress of science and the useful arts, but there isn't the slightest evidence that the social benefits out weigh the social costs, to say nothing of the of the rent seeking, soul sucking patent attorneys who profit from this perverse deprivation of moral and intellectual rights.

    There is no shortage of literature in defense of that position. The patent system, as presently constituted, is a first class train wreck. Virtually every informed observer who is not on the payroll of the patent bar, and who lacks a vested interest in some trivial non-invention, understands that fact.

  • Re:Dear Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sdsucks (1161899) on Friday December 21, 2012 @05:40PM (#42364313)

    Thunderbolt never caught on?

    I use ThunderBolt on a daily basis, and have since the first Macbook Pro supported it. Honestly, it kicks ass. Let me know when you've got another interface as fast AND convenient as TB.

    Just like Firewire it may never be as mainstream as USB, but, again, just like firewire was much faster than USB2, TB is much faster than USB3 - and there is a market for that. (And if you actually think USB2 was even close to as fast as FW400 or FW800, or that USB3 is as fast as TB, don't bother replying until you educate yourself.)

    So, just because you don't use it, does not mean it has not "caught on".
     

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