When Apple unveiled its new miniature iPad last week, Ronnie Khadaran didn’t see the hole he was expecting.
Khadaran heads up marketing for Marware, a Hollywood company that sells its own line of cases and other add-ons for Apple products. Weeks before the Oct. 23 reveal of the smaller iPad, Marware’s design team made their best guess of what the new product would look like, how it would function and what, exactly, it would be called.
The bad news for Marware’s designers: a camera or a mic or some device that was rumored to be on the back of the new 7.9-inch iPad wasn’t there when Apple’s Philip Schiller showed off the new gizmo during a live-streamed presentation. That meant the hole Marware’s designers left in their new case design wasn’t needed, forcing a last-minute change before factory workers in China started production in time for arrival on store shelves by Nov. 2.
“It’s not the end of the world,’’ Khadaran said from his perch outside a packed Marware conference, where about a dozen staffers watched online broadcast of the iPad unveil. The good news: Apple did in fact call the reduced-size iPad the “iPad mini,’’ meaning Khadaran and his marketing team guessed right on both the title and the style when setting up Marware’s website with the new cases.
“Note the lower-case ‘m,’’ he said after the announcement. “That’s huge.”
Within two hours, Marware’s website was updated with photos of the new iPad mini cases, with images of the recently unveiled product — captured from Apple’s website — superimposed on the Marware cases.
Khadaran, 31, is a veteran of marketing and media scenes, having held marketing jobs with Fox Sports Ohio, the Speed Channel and Sun Sports. He joined Marware in May 2011, and now leads the company’s efforts to stand out in the increasingly competitive industry of selling accessories for tablets and cellphones.
Ed and Maria Martin started Marware in 1993 in their garage as a fledgling software company. Soon they were making software for the Apple Newton, a digital notebook that was considered the leading edge of technology at the time. Sales were relatively hot until Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and killed the Newton.
But the Marins were back when Apple released the iPod in 2001. A sleek but relatively fragile device, the music player was perfect for a case since buyers were eager to protect their shiny new investments.
Now Marware sells accessories for iPads, iPhones and iPods, along with similar offerings for the Amazon Kindle. And while the Apple products tend to get the most media attention — Marware’s iPhone 5 cases were recently featured on the CBS show, This Morning — it has reportedly sold more than 1 million cases for the Kindle.
Khadaran sat down with Business Monday for two interviews in the lead-up to the iPad mini announcement, and talked marketing, tech and the pressure of selling a product that may or may not exist.Q. What’s it like when Marware is prepping for an Apple launch?
That is where the fun comes in. I always thought nothing is as last-minute and stressful as television.
You don’t get any information ahead of time. Apple doesn’t give any specs ahead of time. It is a big guessing game. It is a very risky business. People have to gamble and decide if they want to listen to speculation and rumor. They have to decide if they should make a product [meaning an accessory] based on a hypothetical product. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.