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The iPad 3 Case Conundrum, a Talk with Speck

by Todd Haselton | March 1, 2012March 1, 2012 1:00 pm PST

Speck Case

The iPad 3 will no doubt be revealed next week during Apple’s San Francisco press conference. While that means nothing but excitement for consumers, it also means that case vendors will need to scramble in an effort to make brand new protective covers for the device. Apple keeps the specifications and size of its new products so¬†close to the vest that case vendors, such as Speck, need to build the new cases after the devices hit the market. It’s a fascinating story, and I sat down with Speck’s director of business development Chris Gibbins and the company’s vice president of marketing, Jeanne Hultquist, to discuss just how that process works. In my opinion, Speck makes some of the best cases around, both for Android and Apple devices, and so I was particularly interested in the entire process.

Hultquist explained that several case makers try to jump the gun on guessing Apple’s design work by purchasing leaked CAD files, which are essentially the files that reveal a device’s mechanical engineering specifications so that case makers can build products that fit perfectly. Unfortunately, as we saw when the iPhone 4S launched, several case makers appear to have purchased CAD files that were for a device that does not exist. You might remember leaked images of cases for the tear-drop shaped iPhone 5, which still remains unannounced. Talk about a waste of money.

Hultquist is a former Apple employee, so she knows the kind of secrecy and tactics that Apple likes to employ. I asked her how long it takes a company like Speck to bring cases to the market after Apple launches a new product. The answer? About 45 days of non-stop work. Speck doesn’t try to buy leaked CAD files, instead, the company will buy a bunch of brand new iPad 3 units on launch day and will immediately begin designing cases that fit perfectly. Then, the product team will take those CAD files to the company’s manufacturers abroad and will tweak the machines so that everything can be made to the exact dimensions of the iPad 3.

We’ll be covering Apple’s iPad 3 launch extensively next week, so be sure to keep your browsers pointed to TechnoBuffalo for all of the news as it breaks. And we’ll be certain to keep you updated on what Speck ends up creating for Apple’s brand new tablet.

Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...