This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
LOGAN - To the gang at iFrogz, chillin' to the alternative-indie rhythms of the Barenaked Ladies is one thing; doing it on a naked iPod is another.
That is why Scott Huskinson and Clay Broadbent launched their tiny company in a Cache Valley industrial park last March. Their mission: to encase and accessorize Apple's popular line of portable music/video players - at last count, more than 60 million of them worldwide - one iPod at a time.
"One of the things Apple really got right with its iPods is that they are all about the 'MP3 [digital music] Generation' and the advent of the portable music player," says Broadbent, iFrogz vice president. "They encourage creativity, allowing individually tailored media collections."
No doubt the combination of MP3 compression and the iPod's tiny, multigigabyte-capacity hard drives has led to an entertainment revolution. Libraries of albums and movies that formerly filled shelves at home can now be carried around in a shirt pocket.
They provide cutting-edge technology, with the individual's tastes determining the play list. And yet, with the exception of rare "special edition" color schemes, iPods have come in just a few basic hues, usually black and white.
Enter iFrogz and its patent-pending, three-part iPod case product. Made of thick, durable silicone rubber, the customizable package starting at $29 includes the main case shell, dubbed the "Wrapz"; an exterior protective cord, or "Bandz"; and the "Screenz," a transparent plastic sheet covering the iPod's face.
The Screenz also incorporates an ever-growing selection of "wheel art," or decals covering the player's click wheel. Choose from the hundreds available, or design your own online, even choosing your favorite photo for wheel art, if you wish.
Along with the many available silicone colors, iFrogz estimates it can offer customers 319,124 variations, and counting. That, along with the tough, shock-resistant design of the cases, makes them different -iFrogz says better - than cheaper competitors.
"The whole self-design thing is what makes us different" from other case suppliers, says Huskinson, the company's president and CEO. "We were sort of latecomers to the game. There are a lot of iPod cases out there; ours are just a lot better."
In business just seven months, iFrogz is closing in on 20,000 sales. Not bad for a start-up company of 24 employees - 20 in Logan, four in Hong Kong overseeing production by Chinese contractors - that has done little promotion since being spun off from Huskinson's other business, Reminderband, a maker of multi-colored, message bearing silicone bracelets.
That has not stopped iFrogz from getting favorable reviews in several venues, and advertising in Rolling Stone and MacWorld magazines. Jeremy Horwitz, editor-in-chief of iLounge.com, recently gave the case a "highly recommended"; reviewer Gary Mazo told pdaBuzz.com the iFrogz case was "one of the most well-thought-out, after-market iPod solutions out there."
Huskinson and Broadbent say their most treasured reviews come from everyday customers. So far, nearly 1,500 have posted comments on the http://ifrogz.com Web site. "Most of the feedback is positive, some offer suggestions, too, and we welcome that," Huskinson says.
A sampling of customer comments (last names withheld by iFrogz):
Jon of Salt Lake City praised the company for "a quality product that addresses all my iPod issues, from the color of the protective case down to the clear protective cover. . . . I was very pleased to have received my new iFrogz case several days earlier than expected."
Pam of Frontenac, Kan., said she had been frustrated in her search for a protective case in local stores, then found the iFrogz site during a Google search.
"I love the way the Web site allows you to see the colors and wheel covers together before you purchase them. I have received numerous compliments on my hot pink/purple iPod!" she wrote.
But variety is not the spice of life for everyone.
Tara of Manchester, Conn., commented that, "I have only one complaint about these. There are TOO many choices! Other than that, I think these are the hottest cases around!"
Slowly but surely, the Utah company is trying to cash in on its good reviews. With an eye to retail expansion in the United States, it recently opened a pilot shopping and design portal on Australia's Digital Home store Web site.
And then there is Huskinson's pride and joy: the Frog Rod.
Painted with the company's logo, the customized Toyota FJ Cruiser recently began its promotional mission with trips to Reno, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Long Beach, Calif. More trips are planned as events and opportunities arise.