iPhone 5 Sets Accessory Makers Scrambling

While Foxconn has reportedly gone to extremes to meet anticipated demand for the new iPhone 5, Apple’s announcement on Wednesday was the starting pistol for other production lines in China as accessory designers finally learned the precise details of the new handset. The New York Times’ Brian X. Chen described the race to get iPhone 5 cases onto store shelves by the time the device starts shipping on September 21st:

Griffin Technology, a company in Nashville that makes Apple accessories, said that moments after Apple introduced the iPhone 5, its employees were making final design tweaks in its prototyping shop, where 3-D printers turn out mock-ups of future products. Many Griffin employees had already traveled to China from the United States to be there when the iPhone 5 was introduced.

[…] Similarly, employees of Incase, a maker of iPhone cases based in San Francisco, crowded into a conference room to watch online reports of Apple’s presentation, said Dave Gotta, the chief executive. Employees in China were waiting at factories for final design specifications so they could get started making cases.

[…] Some companies take unsanctioned routes to get ahead of the game. Hard Candy Cases, a case maker, sent iPhone 5 cases to journalists before Apple even introduced the phone. Tim Hickman, chief executive of the company, said manufacturers in Shenzhen, where his cases are made, sent around design information for unreleased iPhones to attract case makers like himself.

“The factories have gone from, ‘Shhh, hey, buddy, look at what I have for you,’ to making it part of their presentation,” he said.

Others try to get a head start by sifting through the flood of rumours and purported leaks that precedes any Apple announcement, and then gambling on those that seem most credible. See ‘The Shadowy World of iPhone Cases‘, a Bloomberg report that followed the iPhone 4S launch last year, via CDT.

The flexibility that allows these companies to finalise product details at such short notice is a characteristic of China’s industrial machine that Apple itself vigorously exploits: see Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher’s January New York Times article on how the U.S. lost out on iPhone work. For China-relevant information on the iPhone 5, see Tech in Asia’s coverage; for analysis of the crowded Chinese marketplace into which the new phone will land, see Paul Mozur’s report at The Wall Street Journal; and for netizens’ gleeful mockery of the device’s extended screen, see Ministry of Tofu.