Tech Life: Inventors turn to accessorizing the iPhone

An iPhone case plus "oops" protection. Mike Kane didn’t own an Apple phone until the iPhone 4 came out in June 2010. Now he’s on his third, though he insists his own experiences dropping them — "all basically phone-to-concrete" — have little to do with his new product, the $45 CellHelmet.

Maybe so. But when Kane, 29, decided to branch out from selling other companies’ smartphone accessories on his website, and create one of his own, he focused on an idea he might have appreciated himself.

Kane, of Greensburg, Pa., and a friend launched CellPig last year, six years after he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and two years after they got a start on eBay. They knew smartphone cases were a popular product, and they knew why: Without a carrier’s discount, an iPhone is a $500-plus investment. They also noticed that the best cases seemed to share a shortcoming: they resembled a brick.

"All the super-protective iPhone cases are really, really bulky," he says. "We thought, ‘Why don’t we create a case that’s really slim but that protects your phone better than a bulky case?’ Then we thought, ‘Well, duh.’?"

Thus was born CellHelmet’s innovation: combining an iPhone case with a yearlong promise to repair a busted phone or replace it.

CellHelmet got off the ground with help from Kickstarter, which provides crowd-sourced funding for artists and entrepreneurs. The first units began shipping last week, and Kane says CellHelmets will soon be widely available at retailers as well as online.

Of course, replacement plans are also offered by wireless carriers, and many people choose wisely to self-insure against damage rather than pay. Nor is CellPig the first to offer third-party coverage. In fact, Kane uses data from one of his competitors to explain the value of CellHelmet.

Via [The Philadelphia Inquirer]