A couple of years ago, Popslate developed a case for an iPhone that added an E Ink display to the back of the phone, designed as a way for users who check their phones often to conserve their batteries. We found the first version to be a bit limited, but an intriguing idea. The company later announced a follow-up device, the Popslate 2, which would act as a battery charger and come with a better screen.
The company raised raised over $1.1 million to manufacture the Popslate 2 through Indiegogo, which it intended to deliver to customers by July 2016. Now, in an update to its backers, the company announced that it has “entered into the legal process for dissolution of the company,” and that backers would not receive their orders or be refunded.
The reason, according to CEO Yashar Behzadi and CMO Greg Moon, is financial. The company spent a considerable amount of money preparing to manufacture the device, and ran into some technical problems with its design. Last year, the company announced that it was pushing back shipping to October, noting that initial prototypes weren’t sufficient. Furthermore, when Apple announced the iPhone 7, it prompted Popslate to explore redesigning the device so that it would fit both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, only to backtrack when it discovered that a hybrid wouldn’t comply with Apple’s Made For iPhone program. It indicated that it would release a version for each phone.
The company ran out of money when it ran into design and manufacturing issues
In January, the company discovered that its prototypes failed Apple’s certification testing, because the device diminished the phone’s ability to send and receive RF transmissions, forcing it to figure out the cause. It also noted that the device wasn’t reliably charging the phones that it was attached to, it was pushing backer deliveries to March 2017, and it was suspending refunds while the issue was sorted out.
In the latest update, the company announced that it discovered the root of the problem: the case is made of plastic and glass fibers, which messed with the phone’s ability to pick up signals. As a result, the company would have to “spend additional cycles to tune a new blend with required modifications to the tooling,” requiring money that it didn’t have. Despite its efforts, Popslate hasn’t been able to raise money to fix the issues or fulfill its backers orders.
We’ve reached out to Popslate for comment, and will update if we hear back.