Australian entrepreneurs are developing killer apps for the iPad and iPhone that have nothing to do with the App Store.
The runaway success of the iPhone and iPad has allowed a number of Australian accessory makers to flourish and bring their quirky inventions to a global market.
Low-tech solution to a high-tech problem
Chris Land from Melbourne, for instance, believes he is well on his way to creating a $20-$30 million business out of a deceptively simple idea. He has a worldwide patent on plugs - which he's dubbed iCatchi - which slot into empty headphone jacks on mobile phones.
But while the initial idea was to solve the problem of dust and moisture getting into the slots and damaging phones, the key to its money-making potential is the branding opportunities it offers.
Instead of giving out USB sticks, pens and water bottles, Land, 40, is telling brands to hand out iCatchi plugs with their logos on it. Punters are also able to buy iCatchi plugs for about $6 each from the company's website to personalise their handsets with their favourite sport team's colours or with generic images like smiley faces.
"There are 300 million new smartphones coming into the market every year and my product is compatible with 90 per cent of those phones, not to mention that there's currently conservatively about a billion phones in the market today that are still compatible with this product," said Land.
If I can get one or two per cent of a billion phones then it's a $20 or $30 million business."
Land said he had sold 500 iCatchi plugs to McDonald's with the fast food giant's logo printed on the top. These are being handed out to store staff and the company is also considering providing them to customers.
Another 500 were sold to the construction firm Hickory, which provides them to contractors who visit construction sites. The plugs help keep dust out of contractors' phones and promote the Hickory logo
Land said he was also in talks with a large telco and a real-estate company, while there was a steady stream of orders on his online store coming from countries such as Czech Republic, the US and Canada.
"Ferrari allowed us to hand out some promotional plugs at a launch before the Grand Prix and we had displays in one of the dealerships down here in Melbourne where they were handed out to the Ferrari clients that came through," he said.
Land said he had a meeting with Apple in Singapore to see if he could range the iCatchi products in its stores but the company wasn't interested.
"I don't know that they want to actually promote that you can have these warranty issues with their products if moisture or water gets into the headphone jack - that's almost accepting that some of their products are not fit for sale in some countries," he said.