A new Kickstarter project launching today wants to be the first officially licensed iPhone 5 dock, and possibly the last one you’ll ever need for Lightning-bearing. The solid steel Dock+ comes with Lightning support built in, has an application in with Apple’s MFI program and has been engineered from the ground-up to meet Apple’s requirements for its authorized hardware partners. Apple has no plans to ship a dock of its own, so the race to create a definitive third-party solution is on, and Dock+ co-creator David Wurtz believes his product has what it takes.
The Dock+ has a number of benefits over other solutions, according to Wurtz. Unlike the CompleteDock or the newly announced adapter solution for the Elevation Dock, the Dock+ doesn’t just use a pass-through cable solution; instead, it’ll boast its own Lightning connector, so long as it makes it through Apple’s MFI program. That allows it to build a lightning plug that both flexes back and forth for easier removal, and depresses slightly, meaning you can use it with cases and bumpers as well as with a naked iPhone 5 .
But other than the clever bit of hardware engineering around the actual Lightning tip itself, Wurtz says the emphasis with Dock+ was always on making something as uncomplicated as possible, without extra ports or features, in order to simplify the manufacturing process and ensure the ability to ramp up to high volume shipments quickly. That’s why Wurtz is very confident they’ll meet their ambitious projected March 2013 ship date – I told him that, in my experience, the Kickstarter project that makes its first projected ship date is very, very rare, but he still seems confident. Really, Wurtz said the main thing that could hold them up would be any hiccups in the MFI approval process.
The Dock+ itself is designed with function as the utmost concern. It’s made of solid steel, and as you can see in the video, that means it won’t budge from the desk or table when you take your iPhone on or off. It also comes in three different colors (natural steel, black and white), and uses readily-available micro USB cables to supply power and syncing, meaning you can fit your own from your existing collection, or choose either a 3- or 6-foot version shipped with the Dock+ itself. Optionally, users can also get a power brick for their wall outlet, or they can supply their own.
Thanks to the shelf design, Wurtz says the Dock+ should work with any changes in hardware design of the iPhone, so long as it retains the lightning connectors (which Apple exec Phil Schiller is here to stay for a while at least). The team has also tested it with the iPad, in the expectation that the next one will have a lightning connector, and it works well. It should also be a perfect fit for the iPad mini, Wurtz says, so long as that device matches the early leaked hardware design.
I never believed I was a dock guy, but it turns out I am, and my time with the iPhone 5 has been sadly dockless so far. Dock+ is a promising new accessory in that regard, and it has a relatively modest goal of $75,000 with 60 days to reach it. Pre-orders start at $49 for early backers, and you can check out the Dock+ in action in the video below.