It’s got to be tough making cases and other accessories for Apple products. While it may seem that everyone knows everything about the new iPad mini already, the truth is that the actual specifications of the product are unknown by anyone except Apple and its manufacturing partners in China.
An accessory maker who wants to create an iPad mini case, for example, is hard pressed to know what to make, what size and shape to make it, and what type of person is going to want it, especially at first. The stakes are high, considering that a well-designed case that makes it to market at the same time as the iPad mini will be the one that most people choose.
We spoke to Marware’s Director of Marketing, Ronnie Khadaran, who opened up about the process his company went through to design its new iPad mini cases and accessories.
Khadaran reports that no one gets Apple devices or specifications ahead of time.
“Anytime Apple releases a new device,” he said in an email exchange with Cult of Mac, “we (like all other case manufacturers) have to order it like everyone else when it goes on sale. It’s incredibly challenging to design and develop products for a device based on 100% speculation.”
Even companies like Marware, who have been making great accessories for Apple products as far back as the original iPod days (I had a Marware SportSuit for my iPod Photo), have to design and develop their products for a device that may not even be real. “Apple does not share information with any accessory manufacturers before the announcement,” said Khadaran. “It’s all speculation and guesswork.” Yikes.
The hardest part, he said, was reacting to the ever-changing rumors that surround such a product launch. The iPad mini rumors, he said, “have become increasingly conflicting. As always with device launches, no one knows for sure until they get the product in their hands.”
Khadaran also notes that with a device like the iPhone 5, there was at least the historical perspective of the previous iterations of the iPhone to help Marware and other manufacturers know what was coming in the new device. With the iPad mini, however, there is no history to fall back on when creating a new set of accessories for it.
“For this new rumored smaller iPad,” said Khadaran, “it is basically a brand new device being introduced. You have the full-sized iPad as somewhat of a precedent, but the 7″ tablet market is completely different from the 10″ market.”
This becomes even more important when marketing these kinds of third-party accessories. Apple is the variable here, as its marketing direction, especially at first with a brand new device category, is what most consumers will think of the device. If a third-party manufacturer’s message is far enough off from Apple’s, it could be disastrous.
“From a marketing standpoint, the challenge lies in how you tailor your message,” said Khadaran. “There’s going to be an interesting convergence of two very different customer-types for this new device: the standard die-hard Apple fan; and the non-Apple user who is willing to spend a few hundred dollars on a 7″ tablet.”
Now that the iPad mini has been announced, of course, Marware and other accessory makers can breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief. Did Marware make the right choices, from its design to its execution and manufacture of iPad mini cases? “We’re very fortunate that things unfolded successfully for Marware with this launch,” said Khadaran. “We had to take some risks based on the rumors and luckily they worked out. We’ll have cases in our customers’ hands at the same time they get their device. Anytime we can accomplish that, it is considered a successful launch.”
No one knows for certain whether Marware–or any other third party case maker–will capture the imagination and spending cash of a large portion of iPad mini purchasers. For now, take a look at the different case styles that Marware has come up with, and offer your comments on the designs below.