Yesterday’s surprise leak of Case-Mate iPhone 5 case photos was a news cycle coup that sent the tech media and its minions of committed readers’ heads spinning. Because the links to the cases’ product pages were fleeting and were taken down just hours after they posted on Case-Mate’s website, tech blogs and websites scrambled just to capture the images of the pages and cases, with little time to really process the big picture of this significant news development.
In contrast to the Summer-long stream of purported (truly, my favorite word on this blog) iPhone 5 cases of the el cheap-o variety, having a top-tier case manufacturer like Case-Mate stake its claim ahead of the iPhone 5′s official release is a major development; it is nothing less than a top-tier player in the consumer electronics accessories market leveraging its prestige to steer the iPhone 5 rumor mill at this late stage of the game.
Desperate iPhone 5′ers (this one included) were quick and ready to embrace this round of leaked iPhone case photos as the “silver bullet” they’ve been looking for that would indicate the form factor and hardware changes to the iPhone 5, as well as a strong suggestion that the next iPhone’s release is indeed imminent.
Not so fast.
The Leaked Case-Mate iPhone 5 Cases: “Accident” or “Publicity Stunt?”
This morning, I was amazed to come across this headline from IBT: “Case-Mate Accidentally Leaks iPhone 5 Cases; Rumors Gaining Credibility?” How IBT could have no skepticism about what happened at case-mate.com yesterday is incredible to me. Their staff reporter put it this way: “In what seems to be the result of a serious lapse, the world may have got the first glimpse of the iPhone 5.”
Let’s dispel any notion that Case-Mate’s leaked iPhone 5 case product pages was an “accident.” An accident would have been if the pages popped up for just a few minutes — in point of fact, those product pages were all available for a few hours. Even if the Case-Mate Webmaster was incompetent enough to let those product pages slip out, it would have not gone undetected for hours: traffic to the Case-Mate website is undoubtedly monitored in real time, and the rush of traffic to their site, landing on all of those so-called “accidental” product pages would have pinpointed the snafu hours before the links were taken down.
Exhibit two in suggesting this was not an accident is the fact that Case-Mate also rolled out a teaser page for the next iPhone — and it is still up. That page, which is now a permanent fixture on their iPhone Cases category page, is a hype page, designed to get excited iPhone 5 early adopters to sign up for their e-mail list and get advanced word on their iPhone 5 cases. I wonder how many people signed up on that page yesterday? Did you? I know I did!
No, this is a publicity stunt, brilliantly planned by Case-Mate’s PR department, to take full command of the iPhone 5 news cycle for at least a day. The plan was simple: mock up some new iPhone case renderings (which I’m sure are somewhat legit from an aesthetics standpoint — but more on that later), roll out some product pages, tip the media off, leave the pages up long enough so that everybody g0t a chance to see them, take them down, put up their iPhone 5/4s sign-up page, and position themselves as the forerunner of iPhone 5 cases.
Seriously, folks — this was a brilliant PR move by Case-Mate. Every other case manufacturer to today is kicking themselves for not doing it first.
And you might recall that it isn’t the first time a case company tries a publicity stunt like this. In another article, we show how UNIEA managed to do it with the iPod Nano/”Fatty” some years ago, albeit to a less-effective degree.
(Read this article, “More iPhone 5 Case Sightings, and What You Need To Know About iPhone Case Designers,” as it directly pertains to what’s going on with this Case-Mate iPhone 5 case story.)
What Case-Mate Knows About the Next iPhone
What does Case-Mate know about the next iPhone? Apparently, not much more than we do.
First, they don’t know the name of the next iPhone, as they state on their sign-up page: “The debate continues on whether the new iPhone will be an iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S. From our inside resources, it appears that Apple will be indeed launching both an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S in early October. The speculation indicates that the iPhone 4S will feature the same form factor as the iPhone 4 but will be upgraded with the latest technology, including the A5 dual-core processor and 8 mega-pixel camera.”
Second, they don’t know when the next iPhone(s) are being released: “Days away from Macworld Asia, the countdown to the iPhone 5 announcement and launch is officially on. More and more reports have surfaced reporting that Apple is expected to reveal the long awaited iPhone 5 coinciding with the conference in Beijing.” In this sleight of hand, Case-Mate has seeded a new rumor: that the iPhone 5 will debut and/or coincide in Beijing (wow — that would be another coup). But what I take out of this line that Case-Mate is trying to say that the iPhone 5 countdown is “officially on.” Many would say that the “countdown” has been on since before the WWDC. And what they are citing here are “reports” and “rumors.”
There are no confirmations or guarantees here, folks. If anything, Case-Mate seems to have been reading a blog like the iPhone 5 News Blog.
Most revealing, however, is the photo Case-Mate has up on their iPhone Cases category page: for the iPhone 5 link, it’s a glass-back iPhone 4 (pictured above). Why didn’t Case-Mate use the same mock-up that they have in their iPhone 5 case renderings?
I hate to always have to play the cynic and skeptic for iPhone 5 rumors, but the designs I saw on Case-Mate’s website yesterday look to me more like “works in progress” than actual production-line models (at least the el cheap-o iPhone 5 cases were real, tangible cases that people touched). In the end, I am sure that they will work with these designs once the iPhone 5 is released, and bring the specs into conformity with the new dimensions and hardware features of the iPhone 5. I’m sure that the style and aesthetics will remain.
But all of the key elements of these cases — the rounded edges, the camera cutouts, and that mysterious slit on the side — are all subject to change once we get the official announcement.
It will be interesting to revisit these iPhone 5 case designs once the iPhone 5 is released, and compare them with what Case-Mate eventually offers, won’t it?
By Michael Nace