Case maker talks secret iPhone CAD files, Chinese intrigue [Podcast interview]

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Veteran case maker Tim Hickman talks about iPhone 7 leaks out of China.
Veteran case maker Tim Hickman talks about iPhone 7 leaks out of China.
Photo illustration: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The market for iPhone cases is worth billions of dollars. The first manufacturer with a case that fits a new device — say, the iPhone 7 — can make a killing in the days following an Apple launch.

For this week’s episode of Kahney’s Korner, I talked with industry veteran Tim Hickman, CEO of Gumdrop Cases. Over the years, he’s tried all kinds of tricks and strategies in the race to be first to market with new iPhone cases — including making thousands of cases that turned out to be wrong.

This time around, Hickman has received several CAD files from mysterious sources in China that supposedly show the exact dimensions of the upcoming iPhone 7. Will he bet his company’s fortunes on these files of dubious origin? Let’s find out.



This episode of Kahney’s Korner is supported by TunnelBear, an award-winning service that gives you fast and private access to the internet.

Hickman talks about the evolving market for iPhone and iPad cases, which is worth an estimated $21 billion, rising to an eye-popping $110 billion by 2021. iPhone cases make up about $4 billion of that, according to Hickman.

Being first to market is crucial. More than a quarter billon dollars’ worth of cases are sold in just the first two weeks after a new iPhone is launched.

With the iPhone 7 coming up, several CAD files showing the surfaces of the new device are circulating within the case community. If he so chooses, Hickman could make molds for an iPhone 7 case months before Apple officially unveils the device.

About Kahney’s Korner

Kahney’s Korner is a weekly podcast. Every week I’ll be interviewing a guest from the world of Apple — folks like app makers, IT guys, store Geniuses — it’s a big Apple world out there, and it’s filled with tons of great, fascinating stories to tell.

This week’s sponsor: TunnelBear

Thanks to TunnelBear for supporting this episode of Kahney’s Korner. Go to GetTunnelBear.Com and create a free trial account. If you use that URL, TunnelBear will know we sent you.

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