5:01am

Thu February 21, 2013
Business

Challenges for OtterBox Not Slowing Company's Growth

Fort Collins-based OtterBox has been growing significantly in the past few years, with revenue now topping $600 million.

Analysts caution that the mobile case manufacturer also faces some significant challenges ahead – including competition and counterfeiting. Jeff Nuttall with the Northern Colorado Business Report says the company is dealing proactively with these challenges.

Erin O'Toole talks with NCBR publisher Jeff Nuttall about challenges for fast-growing OtterBox on Morning Edition

Interview highlights:

On what makes OtterBox stand out from its competitors...

"The company already has positioned itself really well with its brand. One analyst we talked to says most people who have a phone case from another company don’t know what brand they have. With Otterbox, however, most people know what they own, which is a great place to be if you’re selling cases… or anything else, really."

But the company still faces challenges...

"Otterbox... faces some interesting competition as the market shifts from standard protective devices known in the industry as “dumb accessories” to “smart” cases that also make use of software and applications.  One of those companies, mophie, has come up with a battery case that extends the operating time of smart phones.

OtterBox recently introduced its Defender Series with i-ON intelligence cases that actually charge iPhones and come with an application that allows users to manage battery life. It will release the product this spring for the iPhone 4 and 4s.  Mophie, however, just released its battery-pack case for the iPhone 5, so there you have a rival who’s ahead in the game."

On staying one step ahead of counterfeiters...

"This is a big issue for the company. Last year, Otterbox won a $10 million judgment in the sales of 20,000 counterfeit cases by an eBay seller. But, one analyst told us that while Otterbox caught one bad guy, there are 100 other counterfeiters out there.

Eight full-time employees work with federal agencies to aggressively go after counterfeiting operations. They do everything from monitoring online sales activity to working with foreign governments to seize counterfeit shipments. [CEO] Brian Thomas says the company will never catch every counterfeiter. But he said OtterBox is making it very difficult for counterfeiters -- or at least it’s trying."

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