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PopSockets is an iPhone case with expanding buttons for propping, gaming, holstering, headset management, and looking good.
520 backers pledged $18,591 to help bring this project to life.

Public Update: The PopSockets Story from Funding to Now

Posted by David Barnett (Creator)

Earlier this week NPR aired this piece, which generated a substantial discussion of whether failed Kickstarter projects should issue refunds (to see a sample of the discussion, google 'NPR Kickstarter'). The piece suggested that PopSockets is an example of a failed project that offers refunds to its backers. Since the piece aired, I've had many inquiries as to whether the PopSockets project is in fact failed. The short answer is No, PopSockets is not dead! I am offering refunds to my backers, but not because the project is dead. To help the public understand why I'm offering refunds, and what the status of the PopSockets project is, I've created the following timeline of major events since PopSockets was successfully funded:

February 12, 2012 The PopSockets Kickstarter campaign is successfully funded, with $18,591 raised to manufacture PopSockets cases.

March 8, 2012 After extended negotiations, I sign an exclusive licensing agreement with Case-Mate, according to which Case-Mate will exclusively manufacture, market, and sell PopSockets cases in exchange for paying me a royalty on each case sold. Case-Mate initially expressed interest in PopSockets at the January 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. I promise backers PopSockets cases made by Case-Mate, who estimates that it will take three or four weeks to build the molds to manufacture the PopSockets cases. Where does the $18,591 go? Over $10,000 goes toward legal fees relating to the agreement with Case-Mate. Over the next few months, much of the remainder goes toward prototyping better versions of the accordion component of PopSockets, as well as developing and prototyping a novel sticky-gel platform for attaching individual PopSockets to the backside of any phone or case.

March 9, 2012 I offer refunds to any backers who are disappointed by the unexpected arrangement with Case-Mate.

June 9, 2012 Case-Mate announces that they will eliminate some products from their upcoming lineup, including PopSockets. Case-Mate promises to finish building the molds for the production of the PopSockets cases, on the premise that I might then decide to purchase the molds at cost from Case-Mate and use them to produce PopSockets on my own.

June 25, 2012 In an effort to compensate me for my setback, Case-Mate offers to give me the molds, which Case-Mate paid roughly $20,000 for, at no cost to me, in exchange for my agreeing to terminate our licensing agreement, conditional upon my satisfaction with the quality of the first parts from these molds.

July 11, 2012 I receive the first PopSockets case parts from Case-Mate and am not satisfied with their quality. Their bodies are too long and too wide. The buttons have numerous serious problems. And the general quality is not up to my standards. At Case-Mate's request, I agree to allow Case-Mate's vendor to revise the molds in an effort to address the problems.

August 14, 2012 I receive the second round of PopSockets case parts from Case-Mate. The bodies are still too long and too wide; the buttons still have serious problems; and the general quality is still not up to my standards.

August 31, 2012 I reject Case-Mate's June 25th offer to give me the molds at no cost and open the door to discussions with Case-Mate over the appropriate compensation owed to me for my setbacks due to Case-Mate's decision to pull out of our agreement.

September 4, 2012 I announce to my backers that there will be no PopSockets case for the iPhone 4/4S. I offer two forthcoming iPhone 5 cases for every case that I initially promised, or five pairs of "PopSockets for All" -- individual PopSockets that attach to backside of any phone or case by way of a thin reusable sticky-gel pad. (Alternatively, I will offer one iPhone 5 case and two pairs of PopSockets for All.) I also reiterate my offer to refund my backers.


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    1. David Barnett Creator on

      Got it, Dave. Your remaining refund is on its way. Thanks for staying a fan. David

    2. David Duncan on

      Hi David After allot of debate I decided to stick with my 4S as well. I'd sure be interested in it for iPhone 6. I'm really sorry I realize none of this is your fault. When you get chance please refund the rest of my pledge. I will of course remain a fan.

    3. David Barnett Creator on

      No problem, Kousaku. The PopSockets for the iPhone 6 will pop harder and farther than ever. Your money has been sent via PayPal. David

    4. Missing avatar

      Kousaku Yui on

      Hi David, I'm a big supporter of your product, but as I have an iphone 4s, I'd like to ask for a refund. I'll be sure to get a PopSocket case for the iphone 6!

    5. David Barnett Creator on

      Hi Adriana, I sent your refund to your PayPal account.

    6. adriana on

      may I also be sent a refund please. I am less and less excited about this product and have a new iphone and find no need for this anymore. the lag in time just makes it not worth it. sorry

    7. David Barnett Creator on

      Michael, I sent your refund by PayPal to your email address affiliated with your Kickstarter account. Thanks, David

    8. Missing avatar

      Michael Hubbell on

      Sorry David. Let me know I can get a refund. The popsocket saga has dragged on for too long for me. Hope you finally get something actually into production for the other 519 backers.

    9. David Barnett Creator on

      Hi Sharleen -- Thanks for the love. Some day you'll do the PopSocket. No worries. Just email me your email address that is affiliated with your PayPal account and I'll send you your money. Thanks, David

    10. Sharleen Suico on

      How do I go about getting my refund? I have an iPhone 4S with no plans to buy the new iPhone 5 coming out soon. So unfortunately I will not be able to use the case I was so excited for. Keep working hard though on your design and getting this produced. I love the idea!!!!!

    11. Missing avatar

      Atalio on

      I have an iPhone 4S and would have appreciated a PopSockets case for it. As disappointing as it is that you will not offer 4/4S cases, I think your solution washes away the deep anguish I was feeling over my whopping $25 investment. I’ll be taking advantage of your offer of an iPhone 5 case bundled with two pairs of the adhesive-backed PopSockets. I’ll use my adhesive-backed versions for my current phone, and I’ll switch to my iPhone 5 PopSockets case when I upgrade my phone. Although Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates have been called morons, I believe they would think your solution is amicable. I’m more than satisfied, professor. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!

    12. David Barnett Creator on

      Michael and Yuval: It's good to know that I've got loyal soldiers behind me. For now, let's keep our guns in our holsters, as I'm optimistic that Case-Mate will do what it can to resolve this in a fair manner. This is not to say that you should stop training altogether: please continue wearing camouflage to work until further notice. Seriously, though, I do appreciate the support and will keep you posted on my progress both with Case-Mate and with the production of PopSockets for iPhone 5 and All.

    13. Missing avatar

      Yuval Avnur on

      Thanks for these updates, David! I feel assured that you will protect us backers from Casemate's assault on your invention. It seems to me, though this is not my area of expertise, that you could have a good "case" against Casemate. It seems clear that their behavior so far is appalling. If they don't wise up soon, I hope you use your growing network to spread the word about them, and also take whatever other action you can to get compensated (I guess we'd need to see more details on your contract with them to see our options). But don't get too discouraged: a fight against Casemate could get you just the sort of publicity Popsockets needs to become the star it's destined to be (especially since you're clearly in the right).

    14. Missing avatar

      Michael on

      You know I'm on your side, David, but I agree with Erin that you're being naive. Assume Case Mate's intentions weren't as rainbows&unicorns as you mentioned, that they were indeed out to delay--don't their actions play out in a consistent way indicating that trend? You were competition they pursued/promising that they would produce within a couple months. How long did it take for them to negotiate/execute your agreement? How long for them to create sub-par/useless molds for an iPhone 4 for which you counted on their providing cases? Seems like a by-the-book delay-the-competition strategy. And what have they offered you so far for this huge setback? Useless molds of zero value to Case Mate.. Unless Case Mate steps up and offers something of value we will take it to the streets!

    15. David Barnett Creator on

      Thanks Derek and Elizabeth!

      Erin: Are you for hire? I could use a tough-minded general counsel like you.

    16. Erin Dougherty on

      David, that's a pretty generous assessment isn't it? CaseMate is a case company- this is all they do - and yet they take months and months to send you cases that don't even fit the phone? That's crazy. Like they don't know the dimensions of the phone? And you think they took a long time to tell you they were breaking the contract because they didn't want to hurt your feelings? So all in all, they didn't bother to make the thing, then dropped it and broke contract, dragged their feet on a final resolution, and finally sent you cases that don't even work as if the whole thing is some kind of joke. I don't get how you see "good intentions" here.

    17. Missing avatar

      Elizabeth Zok on

      I so appreciate your updates, sorry you've had so many setbacks that were beyond your control. I think you've handled yourself admirably and do not intend to ask for a refund. Keep on!

    18. Derek Christman on

      First, thanks so much for being so transparent with us and in my mind I never intend to ask for a refund; it's still a great idea and no one can accuse you for lack of effort. Keep chugging!

    19. David Barnett Creator on

      John -- Good memory: there was an extended period in which I was waiting to hear back from Case-Mate about the status of the PopSockets. I'm sure delivering the bads news to me was not something they were eager to do.
      Erin -- I've had quite a few backers and friends raise the question of whether Case-Mate deliberately delayed my project to keep PopSockets off the market. I doubt this is the case. First, it strikes me as implausible that a giant case maker would worry about a tiny start-up like mine -- the odds that my sales would harm their business seem very low. Second, as I've said in my private updates, I have no reason to think that the folks at Case-Mate have had anything but good intentions in their interactions with me. This is not to say that their actions have been favorable to PopSockets, but only that I don't think that the motivations behind their actions have been malicious.

    20. David Barnett Creator on

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments. As always, I'm grateful for the support.

    21. Erin Dougherty on

      Amazing that Case-Mate can't get these molds right. They're supposed to be a case manufacturer, right? You seem very patient with them, I would be PISSED. You sure they're not just trying to delay your case to suppress competition?

    22. Missing avatar

      Kayte Fulton on

      David, sharing, albeit extremely modestly, in your journey as an entrepreneur has been fascinating. Though I am sorry that the road has been so bumpy, your integrity and transparency are unassailable, and I am happy to stay on the bus! Wishing you and PopSockets the best.

    23. Missing avatar

      Harald Kirkerød on

      Thanks for the update, David. It's worth the backing in itself to hear about your journey from idea to finished product. Things are usually never as easy as one can hope. Good job so far, and good luck with the next steps.

    24. Missing avatar

      Jerry McNamara on

      David, you are such an earnest guy! I wish you were CEO somewhere. I am totally down with getting the iPhone 5 cases when they come out. Just keep on updating us. Peace!

    25. Dave Michalak on

      I'm totally sympathetic up to the point where you're no longer making the product for my phone =\
      The money's not that big a deal to me, so I don't need a refund, I'm still curious to see where this goes.
      And, who knows, maybe I will upgrade my phone by the time they are ready.

    26. Danielle Koontz on

      I appreciate the updates. I backed Orbit and it's been a year and they rarely update. It's nice to be kept informed, even if it's not the greatest news. I'm glad you're going to do the new iphone as we all plan to upgrade when it comes out. One day at a time :)

    27. John McCormick on

      Some of the extended wait from my recollection was that Case-Mate didn't get back to you for a while leaving you in a lurch while they were deciding to drop PopSockets.