Apple's iPad 2 Smart Cover color conspiracy

Apple makes its Smart Cover for the iPad 2 in 10 colors, but some argue the best colors are reserved for the higher-priced $69 leather version--and it's no accident that they are.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
3 min read
The Apple Smart Cover for iPad 2 comes in 10 colors, but arguably the best colors cost more. Apple

The other day I noticed that one of our tech editors here, Joe Kaminski, had a light blue Smart Cover on his iPad 2. Now Joe prides himself on being kind of a macho guy--some of you might know him from the Digital City podcast--so a little ribbing was in order.

I said, "Dude, why does a guy like you have baby-blue iPad cover?"

"I know, I know," he said. "It's kind of lame, but it's the best color they had in the cheaper version. What, I'm gonna get that DayGlo orange or green one? No way. All the colors suck and I wasn't gonna pay no $69 for the friggin' leather version after already paying $750 for the iPad [he has the 64GB white Wi-Fi-only version]. So I went with the blue. At least it's blue."

"Light blue," I reiterated.

"I know, I know," he said. "But I'm telling you, man, Apple did it on purpose. They made the good colors in the leather version so you'd pay the extra $30."

He then showed me Apple's Web site and forced me to assess my color options for the Smart Cover. Now I'm sure plenty of people out there like pastels, but I had to agree with Joe, none of the colors in the cheaper $39 polyurethane version were appealing to me (I probably would have gone with orange if I had to). However, I did like both the carbon and navy blue in the "aniline-dyed" Italian leather version. Black would have been fine, too.

We took the matter to Senior Editor Scott Stein, who owns an iPad 2 with a lime-green Smart Cover. He agreed with our theory that Apple, in its own subtle way (or not-so-subtle way, depending on how you look at it), was nudging people to step up to the more expensive leather covers. However, he said that the Apple salespeople at the store where he bought his iPad 2 didn't try to upsell him on a more expensive cover. They actually said the polyurethane on the lower-priced covers would hold up better over time than leather, which was more susceptible to cracking and scuffing.

I don't know if that's really true, but Stein ended up with a lime-green cover. He says he has no problem with it and it doesn't threaten his masculinity, even if it does run a little "Easter egg-ish" for his tastes. Joe, however, pines for a little leather--or at least, the darker, more muted colors of some of the leather Smart Covers.

This may all seem silly and highly superficial. And it is--until you stop to consider that Apple is selling millions of these things and that an extra $30 starts to add up after you do the multiplication.

Maybe down the road you'll see a slate or black polyurethane version of the Smart Cover and guys like Joe won't end up feeling like they had to settle because they didn't want to pay an extra $30 for a cover. The other option, of course, is to wait for some other company to make a Smart Cover-style case for the same price as Apple's or even less. As you can see from the growing number of options below, one probably isn't too far away.

iPad 2 case roundup (photos)

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