POP charger

Gather round, it’s time for a holiday tale. The story begins with an interesting turn of events by a company located in the far away land of Cupertino, where new versions of popular products both thrilled and irritated the masses in the village of iOS.

Indeed, one of the best and worst features of the new iPod touch, iPhone 5, iPad Mini and iPad with Retina Support is that little 8-pin nugget known as the lightning port. While it’s fantastic for fast syncing, it also makes for complicated charging scenarios for users with both new and legacy (read: 30 pin–equipped) iOS devices.

One Kickstarter campaign boldly attempted to go where no one had gone before, by putting both types of retractable connectors in its POP dock charger. There was clearly demand — the project was so popular that pledges poured in, exceeding the goal amount by more than double. That was great news for founder James Siminoff… until Apple got wind of it. Turns out, POP didn’t follow the specifications in the official “Made for iPod” (MFi) program, at least not for the latest version of the product. The previous model conformed to the guidelines, but then Apple let loose with a new port and threw a monkey wrench into the works. So, no MFi compliance, no green light. In other words, Cupertino… um, dock-blocked it.

Siminoff wasn’t allowed to make a combo 30-pin/lightning port accessory, but was told he could use 30-pin connectors and USB ports (for a bring-your-own-lightning-cable solution). Thanks, but no thanks, he said. It wasn’t the convenience product he envisioned, so just this week, he decided to kill the project and refund the money.

At any other time of the year, that would’ve been the end of the story. But ’tis the season for a holiday miracle, no? For whatever reason, Apple had an uncharacteristic change of heart. The company let go of its inner Grinch, revised its guidelines and reversed the decision to shut down the POP campaign. And now, Siminoff is considering resuscitating his project.

The takeaway? Maybe it’s that tech companies and their surprises may delight (or annoy) customers, but that’s nothing compared to what accessory makers have to go through — especially indie developers in the Apple microcosm.