Behind the Scenes of the 'iPhone 5' Case Gamble

Businessweek takes a look into the world of iPhone case manufacturers, a few of which had made gambles on what the "iPhone 5" was going to look like.

Since Apple doesn't share case designs until the final product is released, case makers rely on rumors and factory leaks to plan for their new cases. According to the CEO of Coveroo, "If you have a good sense that you have the right measurements and plans, then you can ramp up production." That said, he also warns that guessing wrong could risk losing millions in worthless inventory.

case mate iphone 5 cases
iPhone 5 case images from CaseMate

The article also interviews Tim Hickman of Hard Candy Cases, the same case manufacturer that we reported seemed confident in a tapered iPhone 5 design immediately before the iPhone 4S announcement. That company bet $50,000 that the new case designs would be dramatically different.

After three separate manufacturing partners in China sent him detailed 3D models of an iPhone with a widened, pill-shaped “home” button and a slightly tapered back, Hickman decided to roll the dice. He paid $50,000 to make steel moldings to mass-produce cases for the new design and, on the morning of Apple’s announcement, began taking orders on his website.

Factories in China provide the leaked specs to these case makers in an effort to get their business. According to Hickman using these leaks "pisses Apple off". But guessing correctly can be rewarded with an early ramp up in cases with availability soon after a new product launch. It's this possible financial reward that has tied the case industry so closely with Apple rumors.

Top Rated Comments

vebs Avatar
138 months ago
Wah wah...

That's what you get for not following Apple's history. It goes number, then number-S, number, then number-S.
Considering there was only 1 previous iPhone with the S suffix, there was absolutely no pattern to base this on.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
138 months ago
Wah wah...

That's what you get for not following Apple's history. It goes number, then number-S, number, then number-S.
Uh huh. Because 1 instance is enough to recognize a pattern by.

Look, they bet and they lost. Anyone saying the outcome was clear that far back is only using current hindsight as their "evidence."
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
troop231 Avatar
138 months ago
Life sucks, and then you die.

"Stay hungry, stay foolish."
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fenwah Avatar
138 months ago
Risk vs reward. Sometimes it works, sometimes you get burned.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sza Avatar
138 months ago
Finally, they get ****ed up.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Pezman Avatar
138 months ago
fail
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
anker 563 dock ports

Anker's Latest USB-C Docking Station Brings Triple-Display Support to M1 Macs

Wednesday May 18, 2022 7:06 am PDT by
While Apple's early M1-based Macs can only officially support a single external display, there are ways around the limitation. Anker is launching a new 10-in-1 USB-C docking station today which delivers just that. The Anker 563 USB-C dock includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort port, and it leverages DisplayLink to carry multiple video signals over a single connection. Given that this hub...
apple data auction iphone privacy ad

Apple Highlights iPhone's Latest Privacy Features in New 'Data Auction' Ad

Wednesday May 18, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
Apple today shared a new ad highlighting iPhone privacy features like App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection that are designed to give users more transparency and control when it comes to their personal data being collected. The ad revolves around a young woman named Ellie who discovers that her personal data is being sold at an auction house, with bids being placed on her...
Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple's AR/VR Headset Nearing Completion as Board Gets Demo

Thursday May 19, 2022 9:52 am PDT by
Apple last week demonstrated its upcoming AR/VR headset to Apple board members, indicating that the device is in an advanced stage of development and could see a debut in the not too distant future, reports Bloomberg. Apple has also ramped up development of the software that runs on the headset, with that software expected to be called "RealityOS," or rOS for short. Render via designer Ian ...