iPhone accessory makers scramble to release new gear
(CBS News) When Apple revealed the design of the new iPhone, the companies that make Apple accessories started scrambling.
For them, it was guesswork, designing their new products - and guessing wrong could be disastrous.
When Apple announced the iPhone 5 last week, the design team at Florida-based iPhone case maker Marware was anxiously holed up in a conference room; owner Edward Martin describes it as suspenseful.
Martin said, "We're watching the live blogs of the event. So we're, you know, 'Is it gonna be this? Is it gonna be that?'"
Even after the iPhone 5 is unveiled, only a select few, such as CNET's senior editor Scott Stein, get to see and touch the device, before it ships to consumers. Accessory makers are no exception.
"They don't know the final design until the starting gun," Stein said. "So you are guessing and you don't want to guess wrong, and then when you find out everyone is scrambling and you have very few days to do it."
Nearly a week after the announcement, the clock is ticking. The Marware team is hard at work in what they call "The War Room," tinkering with mock-ups of the actual cases and dispatching quality control inspectors to China where the cases are made, and, doing it all based on rumors, never having touched an iPhone 5.
Martin said, "We have to wait in line just like everybody else."
Watch this full report in the video above.
Marware designer Chris Piedra said the company tries to get as much ready on the design before Apple releases the data on the new device. He added, "We then tweak what we have to tweak to make that design work with the new device."
Marware is one of many companies trying to grab a piece of the lucrative, $20 billion-a-year smartphone accessory market. But it can be a dangerous and costly guessing game.
Last year, accessory makers struck out huge when Apple announced a different iPhone than what the market expected. Martin said, "I know a lot of my competitors spent a lot of money, they made a lot of cases, and they had to all throw it away."
This time, Marware's team guessed right. The iPhone 5 is essentially what they expected it to be, save for a few minor tweaks like the re-designed power connector and shape.
Still, the pressure is on. The small company has seen record-breaking online orders so far - people assuming Marware got it right. But, some say there might be an advantage for those who take time to get it right.
Stein, of CNET, said, "They may wait a few extra months. But the idea is that you are going to pay that forward with to be the premier product."
According to Martin, there's only so much time people are willing to wait for the cases. He said, "When you have a brand new phone that's, you know, the sexiest thing out there, you kind of want to protect it."
Martin is antsy and says profit-wise the first few months are make-or-break.
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