Form vs. Function: The Phone Case Debate

June 15th, 2010 4 Comments

At the end of a call with the team today, Paul (@ppedrazzi), Rich (@rmanalan) and Anthony (@anthonyslai) were talking about phone cases.

As the red-headed stepchild on the phone, I might not have it exactly right, but it sounded like Anthony is still rocking the plastic overlay on his HTC EVO. You know that sticky, plastic peel-away they put on glass and plastic surfaces to prevent scratches.

Anyway, Anthony is waiting to get a case for his EVO before removing it. He’s understandably paranoid about scratches. After all, the EVO takes fantastic pictures with its 8 megapixel camera, and the camera¬†lens¬†seems to be in a vulnerable spot on the back of the phone.

Although, I have to say the dual LED flashes are way too bright for indoor shots.

Anthony wants to protect his lens with a case. Both Paul and Rich were anti-case. I think I heard one of them say it ruins the design aspect of the phone.

Interesting, a classic choice between form and function.

I’ve had a case on my OG iPhone for a long time, but I removed it recently. I’d forgotten how excellent the lines of the device are.

So, I can see the design point, but when you’re dropping a few hundred for a phone, don’t you want to protect when the inevitable drop happens? I’m not sure where I’m at on this one.

Discuss in comments.


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4 Responses to “Form vs. Function: The Phone Case Debate”

  1. John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises) Says:

    Perhaps at some point the market will demand form AND function – a nicely-designed phone that is actually rugged enough for everyday use. Right now there's no incentive for the phone manufacturers to do both, so the resulting phones are low-cost and flimsy.

    Perhaps it's instructive to compare this with Twitter. Twitter has big gaps in its offering, so third parties come along and fill them, only to find out that Twitter eventually wants to fill those too, shutting the third parties out.

    Will we see a day where the phone cover manufacturers are put out of business by the phone manufacturers?

  2. Jake Says:

    I wouldn't bet on form meeting function anytime soon. In addition to the obvious lack of incentive you mention, the aftermarket accessory business is way too lucrative for that to happen, e.g. I ponied up $30 twice for cases for my iPhone.

    Kind of like the genius printer/ink business model. Wish I'd thought of that one.

    I suppose some laptops have gone this route, e.g. Dell's XFR series. Aside from the design concerns, a phone hardened to survive drops and extremes, won't have a low form factor, which leads to lost consumers. If I can't pocket it, I'm not buying it.

  3. John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises) Says:

    Perhaps at some point the market will demand form AND function – a nicely-designed phone that is actually rugged enough for everyday use. Right now there's no incentive for the phone manufacturers to do both, so the resulting phones are low-cost and flimsy.

    Perhaps it's instructive to compare this with Twitter. Twitter has big gaps in its offering, so third parties come along and fill them, only to find out that Twitter eventually wants to fill those too, shutting the third parties out.

    Will we see a day where the phone cover manufacturers are put out of business by the phone manufacturers?

  4. Jake Says:

    I wouldn't bet on form meeting function anytime soon. In addition to the obvious lack of incentive you mention, the aftermarket accessory business is way too lucrative for that to happen, e.g. I ponied up $30 twice for cases for my iPhone.

    Kind of like the genius printer/ink business model. Wish I'd thought of that one.

    I suppose some laptops have gone this route, e.g. Dell's XFR series. Aside from the design concerns, a phone hardened to survive drops and extremes, won't have a low form factor, which leads to lost consumers. If I can't pocket it, I'm not buying it.

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