Makers of iPhone accessories welcomed Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ recommendation that iPhone 4 owners literally ‘cover up’ the flaw in the location of the antenna with a protective case. iPhone 4 owners, however, called the response insensitive.
“It is good news,” says Tim Hickman, founder and chief executive officer of Hard Candy Cases in San Francisco. Apple’s suggestion may add allure to an already popular accessory, he says in an interview with Bloomberg News. “The demand is there and Apple has built it.”
The proposed solution may also benefit Belkin International and other accessory sellers, including Apple itself. Mobile accessories generated $135 million in U.S. revenue in the first quarter, according to NPD Group. “Consumers are putting more information on these products and they are relying on them more, so they are more willing to invest in protecting them,” says Ross Rubin, an analyst at NPD.
Apple sells its own iPhone 4 cases in six colors for $29 apiece. These cases are made of a ‘bumper’ that surrounds the outer rim of the phone. Shaw Wu, a San Francisco-based analyst with Kaufman Brothers, says Apple may have to start giving away the bumpers with the purchase of a phone as a way to alleviate customer concerns.
The release of a new iPhone every year since 2007, along with the iPad and iPod, has spawned a diverse accessories market. Apple has been “pretty aggressive” in releasing new gadgets, Mack McCoy, who does marketing for the iPhone accessories division of Belkin, tells Bloomberg. “All of this opens up new avenues for us to play with.”
For the iPhone 4, Belkin makes an armband holder for runners for $24.99 apiece. Skinomi, based in Whittier, Calif., makes a see-through case designed to protect the iPhone from nicks and scratches.
Apple changed the design of the antenna for the iPhone 4, embedding it in the steel-frame chassis, instead of placing it internally. Some customers found that their reception dropped out if they held the bottom-left corner of the device.
Businessweek has published an informative article on accessorizing the iPhone 4.
Meanwhile, Information Week reported today that instead of trying to ease the growing tension about his initial response, Jobs appears to have made matters worse. Published by the tech blog Boy Genius Report, Jobs’ response to an angry customer’s complaint that Apple hasn’t distributed a fix for the problem is, “No, you are getting all worked up over a few days of rumors. Calm down.”