If the Dock Don't Fit, You Must Acquit
While not willing to admit it to a reporter - for fear of alienating the powers in Cupertino, there are many happy accessory makers today, glad that the Apple cart hasn't been upset. As a consequence, they can expect big and immediate sales of their add-on products, in tandem with the release of the new iPhone.
If the Dock Don't Fit, You Must Acquit
While not willing to admit it to a reporter - for fear of alienating the powers in Cupertino - there are many happy accessory makers today, glad that the Apple cart hasn't been upset. As a consequence, they can anticipate big and immediate sales of their products, in tandem with the release of the new iPhone.
I can just hear the salesmen at Apple stores, Best Buy and Radio Shack, at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, all going into their sales pitch already. "Of course, you'll want a new case with that iPhone, right? How about a car charging kit? And maybe a new speaker dock, too?"
As Apple has retained the exact same outer proportions and button/port locations with the new iPhone 4S, makers of accessories need only add an "S" to the packaging of their iPhone 4 products to make the goods current. For a brand like Griffin, that means 30 individual models of iPhone 4 cases - each available in 4 color options - are still relevant to the first wave of 4S phone buyers, who've already pre-ordered well in excess of a million.
I've also counted dozens of still-relevant iPhone 4/4S case options, including many artsy, user-designed models, at the Case-Mate website.
And that's just a drop in the bucket. Enter the search term "iPhone 4 covers" at Amazon.com, and the shopping site produces a staggering 67,993 results!
Changing molds and cranking out new cases isn't all that difficult, it's true. Just before the iPhone 4S was announced, a pitch person for "shock proof" case maker Ribbz projected that the company could have size-appropriate new "SKUs" available "in ten days to two weeks," had Apple announced a larger screened model as many (including Case-Mate) were predicting.
But the upcoming holiday sales season would have been ruined for any concern that integrates an iPod Dock in their higher tech product, had a 4-inch-screened (or bigger) iPhone been unveiled.
Today, all it takes is the changing of a small plastic insert in the 30 pin "Apple Universal Dock" to make this charging/communications port compatible with most iPod and iPhone models.
But as Steve Jobs believed mobile phones with screens bigger than 3.5 inches were clunky and otherwise stupid, the Universal Dock would not, does not accomodate a bigger piece of hardware. I know. I've tried. This week I lined up 4-inch Samsung and 4.3- inch screen LG phones with the dock openings on iPhone/iPod compatible powered speakers, bedside radios, car charging/transmitting devices and the like. The phones didn't fit, so I'd have to acquit.
(An Amazon search brings up 17,415 iPod/iPhone compatible docking devices - though further digging uncovers that a lot have been discontinued.)
In truth, the whole Apple product "eco-system" and "gestalt" depends on the careful integration of hardware, software and accessory products. It's the recipe for overwhelming success that Jobs doubtless brought home from his discussions in Japan with Sony founder Akio Morita, a big pontificator on the subject, back in the days when Sony was building monitors for Apple and hoping for even closer associations. (All should be revealed in Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" biography, coming out on October 24th and "soon" a major Sony motion picture.)
So for the moment, at least, Apple is letting things be, maintaining the status quo. As a consequence, Christmas should be decent for the likes of i-friendly product makers Altec Lansing, Belkin and Bose, Cambridge Soundworks, Philips, Sonos and Sony, plus brands who've staked almost everything on products with a Universal Dock - iLive, iLuv and iHome.
And hopefully, if Apple does decide to blow up the iPhone's dimensions next year, it'll do so early and with some advance warning, giving its "third party" product partners time to (barely) get their acts together before the next holiday buying rush.
Still, we gotta ask - What Would Steve Do?