Apple Case Design in 2013, Part 1: On Protection + Priorities
According to internal Apple research that was publicized last year, roughly 80% of iPhone owners use cases to protect their devices, and obviously iPod and iPad cases are popular, too. iLounge recently reached out to some of the biggest case designers in the industry to gather their thoughts on various aspects of case design. Here’s part one of our three-part series on the state of Apple case design in 2013.
iLounge: Do you reach a point in case protectiveness when it feels like overkill?
Bryan Hynecek, VP of Design, Speck: It’s not overkill, but there is a real trade-off. You reach a point where you are compromising the daily performance and usability of your device.
Barry Sween, Design Director, Belkin: Well, there is “perception of protection” and there is “actual protection.” Some of our cases actually protect the iPhone for typical real-world experience as well, or better, than bulky so-called “protective” cases in the market today without intruding on a good user experience. That’s where we strive to go. There may be a perception that bulkier is better. But we believe that bulky things are awkward to live with. A case for a slim, elegant device should not make the device chunky and inelegant. We strive to balance protectiveness with functionality in everyday situations; so even a case expressly designed for protection should still be as slim and elegant as possible.
Chris Robinette, Senior VP of Product, Incase: We work to create protective solutions that highlight rather than detract from the form of a device. Even with our SYSTM line, which shows our most protective options, we’ve taken care to upgrade protection by using innovative materials, like Poron XRD foam, to provide added protection with minimal bulk. Clearly, there is a market for hyper-protective products, but we’ll work to meet this market need in our own way.
Steve Bau, Managing Director, SwitchEasy: As our communication devices are getting thinner and more fragile, we believe that there is a greater need of better protection on these products. But our parents always taught us that too much of anything is not good. So we like to create scenarios that help us decide what the level of protectiveness should be applied. This way, we eliminate the use of unneeded design features, the misuse of recourses and excessive use of materials. We believe this results in hitting our targets without overkill.
Jay Jun, Marketing Associate, Spigen: At Spigen, we focus on keeping our cases simple, smart, and sleek. After continuous testing, we discovered a plateau in efficiency when balancing protection and bulk. Although some people might need destruction-proof cases, a majority of consumers do not require that level of protection. We focus on offering protection from everyday accidents because not everyone works at a construction site.
iLounge: What is your most important priority when designing a case?
Speck: During the design process and when we are developing concepts to solve a specific problem, we try hard to poke holes in it. We ask ourselves, if we were another team looking at the same situation would we come up with the same solution? If the answer is yes, we scrap it, start over and keep going until we all agree on a totally unique and clever solution. Speck cases have an element of surprise in them for customers, something they wouldn’t think about or expect. The springy way the kickstand in the SmartFlex View retracts is a great example of this. It’s fun.
Brian Thomas, President and CEO, Otterbox: For OtterBox, it’s a combination of protection and functionality. All of our cases are designed to offer varying levels of protection while still allowing users to experience the device the way it was intended. We have an in-house team of engineers that design all of our cases with these two elements top of mind.
SwitchEasy: Our most important focus for designing cases is to make sure that all the features of the device are fully operational and accessible after our product is installed onto it. The big challenge here is to make sure that all buttons are reachable and that there is no loss in tactile feel of the buttons. Out of experience, we can say that this is a lot harder than it seems and therefore you see many others fail at this. However for us at SwitchEasy, a case will only be introduced to the market when it complies to these conditions: offering protection and the same user experience as if nothing was put on.
Belkin: Smartphones, like the iPhone, have become such an integral part of our daily life experience that people have developed an incredibly personal relationship with it. Designing a great case means to honor that intimate relationship and to find a true balance of function and fashion, as well as being true to the incredible detail that Apple puts into the design of their products. Our primary aim is to create a line of products that will fit the needs of the various users. So, once we have established the intended user, we first need to understand their needs, and predict what they would enjoy living with. Then we go to work to create a case that best works for them. We will look at creating the appropriate level of protection and tune the aesthetic to fit their lifestyles. Because there are so many personalities in the world we offer a wide range of cases to match them with colors and patterns that appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
Incase: We are always trying to achieve a balance between form and function. At its essence, a case is inherently designed to protect the device it’s attached to, so naturally protection is key. What is unique about Incase is that we bring a very specific design aesthetic that places emphasis on simplicity, intuitive functionality and innovation, which is reflected across the board in our product offering.
- Apple Case Design in 2013, Part 3: On Changes, Innovation, and the Future
- Apple Case Design in 2013, Part 2: On Apple Design Specifics
- Interview: Soundfreaq On Apple + The Accessory Market
- Interview: How Soundfreaq Designs + Prices Speakers
- Tapbots: The iDesign Interview
- SwitchEasy: The iDesign Interview
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.
- iLounge Weekly comes out Monday, subscribe now
- Verizon to allow users to opt out of web tracking ‘supercookies’
- Apple releases iTunes 12.1 update, adds Notification Center widget
- Chinese Government may require Apple to build ‘back door’ into iPhones
- Notes from Apple’s Q1 2015 earnings call
- Cook: Apple Watch shipping in April
- Apple Q1 2015: Record $74.6B revenue, 74.5M iPhones, 24.4M iPads
- Apple Pay support coming to more vending machines, kiosks, parking meters
- Apple releases iOS 8.1.3
- Apple TV adds 120 Sports channel
- RooCase ORB Tablet System
- Harman Kardon Soho Wireless Headphones
- Odoyo Power+Shell EX Rechargeable Battery Case for iPhone 6
- Patriot Memory Fuel iON Magnetic Charging Case with Charging Pad for iPhone 6
- Lenmar Maven Battery Case for iPhone 6
- STM Studio for iPad Air 2
- VSN Mobil V.360 Camera
- Booq Booqpad for iPad Air 2
- Incipio offGRID Express for iPhone 6
- Incipio Tuxen for iPad Air 2
- How do I turn off Reachability on the iPhone 6 Plus?
- How do I get a phone number on iMessage?
- Can I share in-app subscriptions among family members?
- Can I cancel or ‘unsend’ sent iMessages?
- Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Apple’s HomeKit
- Reorganizing files in the iTunes Media Folder
- Exchange text messages between two iPhones with no cellular data plan
- The Booths of the iProducts Marketplace at CES 2015
- Hands-on with CarPlay at CES 2015
- iLounge announces its CES 2015 Best of Show Awards