There’s one small thing missing from Apple’s big iPhone 5 presentation.Apple didn’t announce an update to the its “bumper,” the rubber ring that wraps around the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. It was Apple’s first, and now it seems only, attempt at an iPhone case.
We checked Apple’s site and there’s no mention of an iPhone 5 case.
The bumper looks like a poor excuse for a case. After all, the back of your phone is still exposed to the elements. But, it does its job.
I used three bumpers with my iPhone at various points over the last two years. I had a clear one, a blue one, and a white one. I dropped my phone waiting for a subway when I had the clear bumper and it saved the phone from getting cracked.
The reason I had three bumpers is that I got the clear one for free and I bought the other two for $5 on eBay. They eventually broke down and fell apart so I stopped using them. Now I go nude with the iPhone.
The fact that people were selling knock-off versions of the bumper for $5 tells you they’re not expensive to make. We’d guess they only cost a dollar to manufacture. After all, it’s just a slim piece of plastic and rubber. Apple, which charges $29 for a bumper, could be making ~$28 in profit on each bumper it sells.
If even 25% of iPhone users bought bumpers, it could have given Apple over a billion dollars of extra profit*. Considering Apple’s margins are at risk of being squeezed when it releases an iPad Mini, you’d think it wants every dollar of profit it can get.
Also, Apple being Apple, you’d think it wants to deliver the best case possible. It sells two fantastic cases for the iPad. Its designers must have some ideas about building a cool iPhone case, no? So, where are they?
*How I got that number: Apple sold 98.1 million iPhones in the three quarters since the iPhone 4S launched. Let’s say 90% are iPhone 4s or 4Ss. Now, conservatively, let’s say 25% of those people buy bumpers. That’s 22 million people with bumpers. At $28 in profit, Apple makes $618 million. And that’s just three quarters. Over the lifetime of the iPhone 4 and 4S, it looks like Apple made well over a billion dollars.
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