On Wednesday, Apple Inc. disclosed the secret specifications for its new iPhone 5, which featured a thinner and longer body compared to the previous models.
Within hours, Port Washington mobile accessories maker iLuv Creative Technology released photos and prices -- ranging from $10 to $40 -- for several accessories that fit the new phone. The products will be on sale by Sept. 21, when the smartphone is available.
How did iLuv move so fast?
The privately owned company gathered as much information as it could -- and took a calculated risk.
Using rumored specs for the iPhone 5 gathered from online research, and gathering tips from its office in China, iLuv had already developed cases and several other accessories for the new smartphone before the announcement, said Michael Hong, marketing director for the company.
When the phone was announced Wednesday, the company took a couple of hours to check that its accessories were made to the official specs. It then updated its website to reflect the new products, which include 25 case models, an armband holder and a leather wallet big enough to carry the phone.
"This is all about timing . . . speed to market," Hong said. "If we don't make the product available at the right timing, we lose that precious window to have business. So it's very critical that we have the product available for the buyers to order."
ILuv wasn't the only accessories maker that anticipated the iPhone 5's specs. Other popular casemakers, including Incase and Otterbox, also have the iPhone 5 featured on their websites with a preview of upcoming products. The practice of using rumors to develop models to prepare for mass sale is common in the industry, Hong said.
While being a step ahead in the accessories market has its benefits, it also comes with risks if the rumors are wrong.
Several accessories makers, for instance, made prototype cases for a 7-inch tablet -- the size of the rumored iPad "mini," which Apple didn't, in fact, release. Technology news website TechNewsDaily.com said it was invited to view iLuv's product line a day before the iPhone 5 announcement, and that iLuv also had a case for an iPad mini.
Hong said the company made a "universal sleeve" that could fit many products, including a potential iPad mini.
It is too early to say which big-box retailers will be carrying iLuv's cases, although its past products are sold at stores like Staples and PC Richard & Son. The accessories will be available for purchase on iLuv's website and Amazon.com, Hong said.