Cashing in on the Verizon iPhone

Companies that make cases and other accessories for the iPhone are cheering its long-anticipated arrival on Verizon.

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Finally: Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead and Apple COO Tim Cook announce the long-anticipated Verizon iPhone.It's official: The iPhone is finally coming to Verizon. And while that's big news for consumers who have long been eager to see the popular Apple smartphone on the nation's largest wireless carrier, it's perhaps even bigger news for companies that make iPhone accessories -- which stand to gain millions of potential customers.

Lowell McAdam, the president and CEO of Verizon, announced Tuesday that the Verizon iPhone 4 "exists" and will be available in February. The much-anticipated arrival is welcome news for Verizon users who have been playing the waiting game for years, and for current iPhone owners frustrated with AT&T's overburdened network. But small companies that make iPhone accessories, especially cases, are perhaps even more excited.

Brian Marshall, an analyst at New York-based Gleacher and Co., estimates that 9 to 12 million Verizon CDMA iPhones will be sold this year -- and along with cases, chargers and other accessories to go with them. That translates to a lot of potential revenue for accessory makers.

The Verizon iPhone has the same specs as the AT&T iPhone except for one small thing -- the volume buttons are slightly lower, which means that some existing cases may not fit. But case purveyors are prepared and ready to have cases and other iPhone accessories on the shelves when the new iPhone becomes available on Feb. 10.

We asked some accessory makers about the news -- and how they're preparing for the potential influx of new customers.

"Anything with Apple is a big deal and is great for business, especially for a case manufacturer whose significant portion of revenue is from iPhone case sales. We put a huge amount of resources to get ready -- it's one of our biggest launches of the year as an accessories manufacturer, and we build our model against it.

"You do take the gamble, not knowing for sure if the new Apple product is going to be exactly the same as the previous model, but we do plan for it and we plan production against it. We obviously do our homework and our research, but if it's not in line with what we're thinking then we have the production process streamlined so that we can get products on the shelves within a couple weeks, ranging from $19.99 to $49.99."

Shannon Swallow
Vice President, Global Marketing

"It's definitely exciting news -- iPhone cases are one of our top sellers. We're definitely going to make cases and a whole line of accessories. I'm not sure what the ETA would be for production -- it depends what needs to be done -- but we hope to have products out as soon as possible, within a month."

Christina Michael
Marketing Coordinator
Houston, Texas

"It's always exciting when there's a new device because we know from experience that the best time to make cases and accessories available is in time with these phone availabilities. IPhone cases are a large part of our business because we are one of the first to come out with new cases to support the new devices. We've already done all the tooling [for the relocated buttons] -- we had some ideas and our cases are perfectly tooled to fit. We will have an availability of what we call our 'stylish cases' and protective films for iPhone 4 CDMA by end of January, in time for the iPhone 4 release."

Pia Chon
Global Marketing Director
iLuv Creative Technology
Port Washington, N.Y.

"We've been preparing for this news for quite a while -- it didn't really come as a huge shock. The timing was up in the air, but we've been preparing for another carrier release and improving our general infrastructure and production capacity, making that investment for the Verizon launch.

"We're working to be ready by Feb. 10. We've got prototypes in hand that we believe will fit, and then it's off to the factories for tooling modifications. We have to be clever about how we design and we've been doing it for a long time -- this will be our 9th generation of the Juice Pack. We did see rumors that the volume buttons moved and we braced for impact today. We're looking for a dramatic increase in volume per week with new Mophie customers, but it depends on retail distribution."

Ross Howe
Senior Director, Business Development
Paw Paw, Mich.

Tags: best iPhone accessories, best iPhone cases, Case-Mate, iLuv, iPhone 4, iPhone 4 Verizon, iPhone accessories, iPhone announcement, iPhone cases, iPhone CDMA, News, Seidio, Verizon iPhone

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