iPhone Case Manufacturer: ‘Glassgate Is a Real Problem’

Apple has halted sales of slide-on cases for iPhone 4 through its retail stores, as it believes that trapped dirt causes scratches and cracks in what has been dubbed the “Glassgate” issue, according to Cult of Mac.

Concern that its public image may be tarnished yet again seems to be justified. Basically, the company is being cautious about selling potentially problematic cases through its retail stores, as the Cult points out.

According to the report, the ban is affecting at least half-a-dozen case makers who expected to have a fruitful holiday season.

Quoting a source who works in the case industry and asked for anonymity, the web site claims that at least one manufacturer has hundreds of thousands of battery pack cases that have been certified by Apple’s “Made for iPhone” program, yet none of them are currently available on its store shelves.

Mophie fits that description well, with its Juice Air Pack cases. However, Ross Howe, Mophie’s VP of marketing and new business development, dodged a request for comment, saying only:

“The Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4 is currently available at our website, www.mophie.com, and at AT&T stores nationwide.”

“The product features design and electronics enhancements that make it the most advanced of the seven generations of the Juice Pack line, and we have had an amazing response from consumers since it launched in September. We maintain a strong partnership with Apple and will continue to innovate new solutions to help iPhone users get more from their device.”

The source quoted by Cult of Mac added: “Glassgate is a real problem. Apple is not approving slide-on cases right now for its stores.”

“If they didn’t have a glass back they wouldn’t have a problem,” the source said, adding that snap-on cases do not induce Glassgate.

Apple is known to be investigating whether slide-on cases are the cause of scratched or cracked iPhone 4 units, according to a report by Ryan Block of Gdgt.

Another source confirmed to Cult of Mac: “They’re evaluating every case one at a time.” The source, who also asked to remain anonymous, added: “They’re being very vigorous. We’re still waiting for a final verdict.”

However, Tim Hickman, an iPod/iPhone accessory veteran and CEO of Hard Candy Cases, believes Glassgate is simply a perception problem, and not a real issue with the iPhone 4, according to the news story.

“I’ve shipped 22,000 units and not heard a single complaint,” he said. “If there was a problem, we would have heard about it by now. I’m very suspect that there’s a real issue there.”

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