“Barnacles on the boat to innovation” CES 2012

The northern most part of North Hall at CES 2012 was dedicated to an entire industry built upon accessories to the actual innovations in consumer electronics that are seen almost everywhere else at the event. These are the “barnacles on the boat to innovation”. (I am slightly obsessed by this phrase, which I must duly accredit to Chad).

A quick trip up and down those aisles will quickly reveal that many of these parasitic inventions were made for the iPhone. One critical reason for this is that iPhone cases can be manufactured at scale thanks to the iPhone’s consistent form factor, which has remained unchanged now for three generations. Another factor is that iPhone users tend to be bigger spenders than other smartphone users, and prefer “a sleek device that just does a few things.” That is why they opt for the online roulette beautifully designed iPhone, and why they then (somewhat paradoxically) splurge on decadent accessories to adorn it.

As a new iPhone user, I found myself dutifully conforming to this stereotype when I came face to face with a pink and gold diamante iPhone case with glittery hearts all over it.

It was covetous love at first sight. The vendor from China manning the stall was sympathetic and sold it to me for $30.

Apart from the fact that the sticky labels left indelible marks on the unique “iGlaze” screen protector, or the fact that I had to stretch the hole in the case with a pair of tweezers so it didn’t cover the camera lens, I am completely and utterly thrilled.