Although most hardware technology companies offer protective gear and cases for their gadgets, they also rely on third-party companies to create and design a variety of products. Over the past few years, partly fueled by the creation of delicate mobile devices with large flat screens, these companies have become an integral part of a product’s success — and a multi-million dollar business.
When Apple announced its latest iPad 2 this month, one of the featured updates it showcased was its own Smart Cover, a sleek protective overlay for the iPad 2 that also turns the device on or off when opened or closed.
As my colleague Miguel Helft noted recently, although companies that sell cases for the iPad are impressed with Apple’s new Smart Cover design, competitors said they were confident they would be able to offer a better and more innovative solution.
Judging from the few iPad 2 covers that have been announced so far, it looks competitors might be have a few tricks up their sleeves.
One product that is gaining a lot of attention is called the Miniot Cover, which is made of wood and can bend in a number of directions to allow the iPad to stand upright or lay at an angle for typing. The Miniot is expected to be introduced in late March and cost around $70.
Incase, which makes protective sleeves for a number of devices, is offering a case called the Origami Workstation. This case folds into different angles which allows the iPad 2 to prop up like a computer screen and also offers a resting spot for an external Bluetooth keyboard.
Belkin, another case manufacturer, is taking a different approach from Apple by offering a case that protects both the front and rear of the iPad 2. These covers also look more professional and business-like and the company said a range of options were expected to introduced in coming weeks.
Finally, a number of unique cases are beginning to appear on Etsy.com, the handmade craft Web site. One in particular that seems promising is a felt sleeve that fits over an iPad 2 and its Smart Cover. This is a solution for those who want to keep the Apple Smart Cover, but need a little extra protection during a commute.
Copyright 2011 by The New York Times